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Beyond the Bricks: A New Era of Education
Producer: Ouida Washington
31 minutes

Beyond the Bricks: A New Era of Education

BEYOND THE BRICKS follows African‐ American students Shaquiel Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on track in the Newark public school system. Fifteen year‐old Shaquiel is a bright student who enjoys writing poems and playing the trumpet, but finds himself a ward of the court system when he can longer take the chaos of his local high school and stops going to class. Erick, a nineteen year‐old high school dropout, realizes that the freedom he sought from his former daily school routine is not all it’s cracked up to be. Unemployed and unable to find a job, he spends most of his days bored at home and watching TV.

In danger of becoming just another couple of statistics on the “school to prison pipeline”, the boys find a lifeline with support from compassionate community leaders and alternative education programs that address the root causes of their problems with staying focused in school. Weaved into the boys’ stories is commentary from some of the country’s foremost scholars and experts focused on African‐American boys and their education. Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Schott Foundation President and CEO Dr. John Jackson, and the Reverend Al Sharpton, among others, weigh in on three areas that have a major impact on the success or failure of African‐American boys in school: public policy, the public school system and the role of the larger community.

BEYOND THE BRICKS is a documentary created with the goal of promoting solutions for one of America’s critical problems in education: the consistently low performance of African‐American boys in the public school system. Though the film focuses primarily on students and schools in Newark, NJ, the issues addressed there extend to urban enclaves throughout the nation. Beyond the dismal statistics are the real stories of children fighting to build better futures for themselves. Through these two students’ personal stories, the film looks critically at the circumstances that are plaguing African‐American communities overall, and offers up examples of people who are successfully combating these challenges. BEYOND THE BRICKS promotes hope and the idea that with people at every level working diligently on this issue, there can be real solutions to the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that have for so long plagued African‐American boys and their education.
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"BEYOND THE BRICKS allows us the ability to experience the world of brilliant young males who made a reasoned decision to disengage from school, and their brave journey to return. With powerful commentary from experts, community leaders, school administrators and politicians, BEYONG THE BRICKS demonstrates that the problem of school failing Black males is too grave to ignore, and the solutions are too basic to neglect." - Dr. Ivory Toldson, Howard University professor and author of BREAKING BARRIERS
"BEYOND THE BRICKS helps us to understand where the system has failed our children." - Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Vice Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents
"The real power and beauty of BEYOND THE BRICKS is its potential to be a catalyst for community mobilization, advocacy action campaigns and policy change conversations. The lasting impact this film brings to its audience emerges after the closing credits when the action steps are made to stop American's slow-drip Katrina." - Shawn Dove, Open Society Institute's Campaign for Black Male Achievement
"At the end of the presentation I was really touched... The film had a powerful message as far as a wakeup call for today's youth. We have to look at this issue as a national crisis for young African-Americans so that we can have a positive effect on the generations to come." - Audience member at community screening
• ASALH Conference Film Festival, 2017
• Association for the Study of African American Life and History, 2017

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