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Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement

By Kevin Winstead
Photo courtesy of Kevin Winstead

The University of Maryland’s (UMD) Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy, in partnership with Coppin State’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Enoch Pratt Library, hosted filmmaker Ralph Crowder’s documentary “Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement,” at both Coppin State (May 13, 2016) and the Pennsylvania Avenue Pratt Library (May 14, 2016) as part of the ongoing Baltimore Stories project.

Ralph Crowder III was inspired by the death of Ferguson, Missouri teen Mike Brown, and the uprising of Black Youth at the center of the story. The film documented the day of Brown’s funeral, and provided a much needed and narrowly heard voice from the Ferguson community. When asked why he chose to do this project Crowder replied, "I'm living this, I sacrifice for this. I'm living this so much that I will die for this... because somebody needs to stand up for yall (children of Baltimore) before people die." Crowder articulated his frustration with civic outrage occurring only after the death of youth in poor black urban communities. 


Sheri Parks, associate dean for research, interdisciplinary scholarship and programming and Kevin Winstead, doctoral student in American Studies in UMD’s College of Arts and Humanities moderated the respective post screening discussions.

Coppin State convened approximately 100 high school students from Coppin Academy in an effort to show Ferguson as a metaphor and provided an opportunity for attendees to unpack their thoughts on Baltimore and their interactions with various institutions of the state, such as schools, police as well as public expectations for their future.

Pennsylvania Avenue Pratt’s discussion focused primarily on civic engagement and thinking about the ways in which communities become desensitized by the ongoing structural racism present in their everyday lives making the visual aftermath of civic uprisings not that much different than their current living conditions.

The Baltimore Stories project is designed to help examine the roles of narrative in the life and identity of the city and will produce an educational website to help educators and the public investigate the roles of narrative and race. The project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (Public Square Grant), and is a collaboration between the University of MarylandMaryland Humanities, the University of Maryland Baltimore CountyEnoch Pratt Free Library and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

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