Course Description

Urban Peace Academy is located at 120th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan.

The writing on this website is one component of the final exhibition for the semester long American Studies class at Urban Peace Academy, taught by Sarah Passino. Thework here was composed during the 2001-02 school year.

The class is composed of juniors. For this project, students focused on historic and contemporary understandings of freedom in America in order to look more critically at freedom in their own lives. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and contemporary writing such as selections from James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time," were the texts that anchored the discussion.

The material on this site is an attempt by the students to ground the reading and the concepts discussed during the semester in the physical world occupied by the students in their day to day lives. Both the poems and the story that each student has contributed are WORKS IN PROGRESS exploring questions of what freedom means in America, what history is, and who tells it.

Particular attention was paid to how freedom looks from within the context of The Urban Peace Academy's East Harlem location.

The class wrote a series of poems from the point of view of specific streets they walk down each day. In the fall semester, the students followed that with a short story that juxtaposes the historical documents they had read with experiences in their own life involving issues of freedom and responsibility. In the spring semester, the students followed that with a letter written to a younger person close to them, in which they discussed the state of the world that person will grow up to enter, referencing current events and the historical texts discussed in class.

The Student work can be accessed by clicking on the Harlem and Upper Harlem section of the main map, where their stories are represented as red dots placed on the location they have written about. Or they can be accessed by the Student Index on the Nav bar on the left.

Important documents studied by the class include: