Exploring Birmingham Modules


 

These three video educational modules are designed to foster discussion about issues of race and class.  The video resources are specific to the Birmingham region, but the issues are common to a number of American cities.

The short documentary films have been produced by students investigating issues of social justice affecting society on the community or neighborhood level.  Each one examines a group of people struggling for equity and fairness along racial and socio-economic lines.  The films can be used to stimulate discussions on significant issues related to citizenship and civic responsibility within a democracy.  The films each represent a community issue from the point of view of community members themselves, providing viewers an insider's perspective into the experience of living in a challenged neighborhood.  The films invite candid and open discussions of race and class in America as they vividly and, at times, artfully, present contemporary life in communities that continue to bear burdens of historical inequalities.

The films offer portraits of the legacies of Industrial Age corporate policies ("Beneath These Hills"), federal public housing initiatives ("Mixed Hope"), and legalized residential segregation ("Trained In") through interviews, archival documents, and contemporary observed footage in the communities themselves.  Each film is accompanied by a brief synopsis of the primary issue addressed in the documentary, a set of discussion questions, and a list of additional resources.


Lesson 1   The Company Town
An investigation in public and private governance in the coal mining town of Docena, Alabama.

Lesson 2   Mixed Income Housing
An examination of one of the most recent changes in public housing policy and urban redevelopment.

Lesson 3   Legacy of Segregation
A portrait of a contemporary African-American residential community still isolated by segregation-era housing and zoning laws.