On Thursday, the 8th graders had the opportunity to see the play "The Face of Emmett Till" at the La Mirada Theatre of Performing Arts. This showing was produced by the nonprofit Phantom Projects Theatre, which has a mission of using theater as a teaching tool to tackle relevant and hard-hitting topics and issues from the past and present.

This play chronicles the death of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager from Chicago, who left his home to visit family in 1955 Jim Crowe South, Money, Mississippi. Till was murdered by two white men who wanted to teach him a lesson for allegedly whistling at a local white woman. As told from the perspective of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, this story chronicles her crusade for justice. 

On Thursday morning, students sat in Mudd Pit as Lower & Middle School Director Dr. Zanita Kelly and Director of Equity Ian Tatum set the tone and intention for the material, followed by a debrief on their return to Westridge. Students will continue these conversations around hard history as they begin their Civil Rights curriculum.

“I am grateful that students could experience this moment in history, even though it is a painful reality that can be difficult to witness and discuss," said Tatum. "Our students did not shy away from what they saw and experienced in the play, and I was deeply impressed with our scholars’ thoughtful processing and words. Many students spoke courageously about how the treatment of Emmett was tragic, occurred not too long ago, and learning about some of our lesser-historical moments helps us not to repeat this type of injustice in the future.”

As an interdisciplinary field trip, students were able to examine a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement, observe how language arts and playwriting can provide greater connection and understanding of historical events, and gain critical perspective for the "why" behind our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) work.