The Love, Unity & Values Institute to Take 80 CPS Students on Journey Through Civil Rights

Middle schoolers to learn how young people have been a force for change.

CHICAGO, February 10, 2023 – This Monday, the Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute will kick off a six-week journey through civil rights for 80 Chicago middle school students attending Ariel Community Academy and the UChicago Charter School. Through videos, storytelling and a curriculum called “Choices in Little Rock,” students will view history through iconic stories and figures like The Little Rock Nine who famously integrated Central High School 65 years ago. The program culminates with a field trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, to tour historic sites, including Central and Little Rock National Park.

Forty students from each school will meet for four hours every week and use iPads to capture insights. They will be given assignments and read “Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High,” written by Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine. It explores the oppressive force of racism and the ability of young people to change ideas about race and identity.

LUV Institute founder and Executive Director Cosette Nazon-Wilburn describes the curriculum as provocative and advanced. It was developed by Facing History & Ourselves, which empowers teachers and students to think critically about history and understand the impact of their choices.
“We’ve recently witnessed teachers, parents and elected officials around the country advocate for removal of African American studies and Critical Race Theory from secondary and post-secondary education,” she said. “A program like this one is replicable and a way to supplement outdated curricula and textbooks with material that’s accurate, more interesting and interactive.”

The architects of LUV’s initiative, Dr. Linda Upshaw and Dr. Yvette Curington, are sharing the curriculum with parents to help them prepare for any emotional response their children might have to seeing and reading about our nation’s troubling history of discrimination and violence against African Americans. Eight instructors and eight high school students will serve as mentors. Sessions at Ariel are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and at U of C Charter School on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m.

Students are to travel to Little Rock on March 28 and return to Chicago on the 30th. A videographer will compile footage at the end of the program to create a short documentary of their experience.

Since 2012 the Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute has been working with underserved youth to inspire hope and empower them with economic opportunities while building resiliency and social-emotional competencies.

Media contact: Shawn Taylor | | 312-371-6260.

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