The Children of Cardozo...Tell It Like It Is
In the 1960s, the DC public schools were just a decade from Brown v. Board of Education. By 1968, they'd begun to run up against the experimental ethos of that decade, with the introduction of programs like the Cardozo Program and the Model School Division (MDS).
"Recognizing the need for reform, the Washington, D. C. Public School System sought to initiate change by setting up a Model School Division (MSD)," states a dissertation exploring the MDS experiment. "This act designed to initiate and foster change in the D.C. schools, led to the creation of the Innovation Team as a vehicle for system change...The experiences of the Innovation Team pointed out the need for indigenous mentors or agents, as initiators of change, in an urban public school system. Members of the group, as well as the leader, were employees of the Washington, D.C. school system. The Team had a common bond of classroom experiences, ethnic identity and educational ideology."
Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cardozo neighborhood in Washington D.C. experienced several days of riots, violence, and fires. It would take decades for the neighborhood to recover, but in the immediate weeks and months that followed, the Innovation Team went to work.
Working with local teachers, the team invited neighborhood children to share their experiences of this series of events. The work the children produced was turned into a Smithsonian Institution exhibit designed by Michael, then Design Director of the Education Development Center (EDC), a partner in the school program. The exhibit was displayed on the National Mall, then traveled the country. Several publications were produced from the initiative.
"Children witnessed the rioting, and the experience was rather devastating. We just couldn't leave it alone," said Anne W. Pitts, an Innovation teacher at the time. "This was a catharsis, to get it out of the system." (From D.C.'s Riots Through the Eyes of Children)
We believe there are additional related projects in the archives that we have yet to identify (and at least one known project: Cardozo Raps).
- D.C.'s Riots Through the Eyes of Children
A 1988 Washington Post article about the publication accompanying the exhibit.
- The Night MLK Died, Washington Burned
A detailed account of the riots from historian J. Samuel Walker, who wrote a book about the events.
- Systems renewal in education: a case study of the Washington, D.C. innovation team (PDF)
A 1973 dissertation about the program by Irvin D. Gordy, a Team Leader on the original Innovation Team.
- 50 Years After DC Burned, the Injustices That Caused the Riots Are as Urgent as Ever
A reflection on the contemporary contexts of the riots and their aftermath.
Projects in this collection:
- Education Development Center (EDC)
- The Children of Cardozo...Tell It Like It Is