On April 28, 2015 – a day after Baltimore made headlines around the world for its collective response to the death of Freddie Gray – Wide Angle Youth Media students and staff were compelled to use their documentary skills to project positive images of Baltimore youth. Over the past year, Wide Angle Youth Media collected photographs at spring protests and through workshops at schools, libraries and organizations in more than 15 neighborhoods. The result is this compilation of youth produced photographs that show a city filled with hope, vitality and resilience. This online publication is free for anyone to view, and over 200 hardcover copies of this book have been delivered to participating workshop sites, students, donors, community members, and a selection of local universities and libraries.
In addition to the book release, students in Wide Angle Youth Media’s advanced high school production program, the Mentoring Video Project, have created 9 audio stories reflecting on a memory from the past year.
Last spring, media producers across the world – many of whom had never before set foot in the city – flocked to Baltimore to cover its unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. In the wake of this activity, I felt urgent pride in the work happening at Wide Angle Youth Media (Wide Angle). While many media organizations were portraying the city in a negative light, Wide Angle was empowering students to continue sharing their stories with greater context.
In the months that followed, I challenged my students to think about what role they played in taking ownership of their narratives. Each student’s perspective and outlook on their surrounding environment is a reflection of their individual experiences in Baltimore. Students discussed in what ways the media failed to share highlights across the city beyond Freddie Gray and protests. And while we continued to reflect on the significance of the events of April 2015, we also began sharing personal momentums and achievements that added to Baltimore’s history in 2015. From winning a sports tournament to identity conflicts during the protests to attending anime conventions — these small moments represent a larger image of how its youth are participating in and contributing to the city’s lifeline.
Based on these discussions, Wide Angle producers from the Mentoring Video Project produced a collection of events that impacted them throughout the year. They reflect on the larger community values and records, that cannot be replaced with big media. – Mawish Raza, MVP Lead Instructor.
Support for This Is Baltimore has been made possible by: Baltimore Community Foundation’s Rebuilding Baltimore Fund, Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Humanities Council’s Humanities Fund for Baltimore, Maryland Public Television, Maryland State Arts Council, MurthyNAYAK Foundation, and Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Over 150 students, staff, community members, and volunteers also helped bring this project to life.