This article investigates the pre-Katrina work of Students at the Center (SAC), a writing and digital media program formerly headquartered at Frederick Douglass High School in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Among other projects, SAC led a campaign to build an interactive civil rights memorial park at the site of Homer Plessy's 1892 arrest that would use youth writing, democratic pedagogy, and practices of public storytelling to remember and honor the collective actions of local participants in the ongoing “ride” towards social justice and democracy in New Orleans. This article argues that SAC's pre-Katrina coalition work with arts and community organizations illuminates the crucial role that neighborhood public schools and community-based education play in voicing, sustaining, and empowering local politics of place in dis-privileged urban neighborhoods. Tracing the way in which New Orleans's neighborhood public schools have been dismantled since 2005, this article then asks how the market-based approach to urban school reform is now transforming not only the city's educational system but also its social, political, cultural, and geographical landscapes.


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pp. 529-555
Launched on MUSE
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