Can a Documentary Change the World?


Black and Cuba director Robin J. Hayes discusses “Socially Engaged Art as a Tool for Social Justice” at UnionDocs Socially Engaged Documentary Art Seminar Sunday June 21, 2015 10:30am 322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211. For filmmakers, artists and cultural producers, the seminar offers vital information about the theory and practice of documentary making with a purpose. Tell them Progressive Pupil sent you and get 20% off conference registration with promocode SEDA15. Learn more at  Share with a friend who wants to make films for their communities.

Kara Walker At The New School


“Event Horizon” Kara Walker 2005. Photo Courtesy of Rob Corder.

When I first walked into Arnold Hall on 55 West 13th St, one of the first things that caught my eye was the fluid motion of black and white shapes on the wall near the staircase. Upon closer inspection, I immediately recognized these forms as animated figures falling down a long tunnel. A site-specific creation, Kara Walker’s Event Horizon was her first public art installation commissioned by The New School as part of a commitment to create new art within its public spaces in 2005. It is a piece that takes up the left and right walls of the staircase entirely and provides visual movement as the viewer walks up and down.


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Leadership Development Program

Progressive Pupil’s New Leaders for Social Change Program is off to a great start this year thanks to a grant from the New School for Public Engagement’s Civic Engagement Grant Fund. Made possible by the generosity of Board of Governors member Judith Zarin and the vision of Dean David Scobey, the grant supports New School faculty civic engagement and public programs. The fund’s mission is to build a community of practice among faculty, staff and students that serves the public interest.

Progressive Pupil is a project founded by Milano professor Dr. Robin J. Hayes. The organization’s core mission is to make Black studies for everybody through film and other media projects. The New Leaders for Social Change Program invites students from across the university who aspire to careers in non-profit management, documentary filmmaking and interactive design to commit to promoting diversity in those fields. Program participants receive mentorship and hands-on experience which compliment the interdisciplinary academic training they receive at The New School. This 2013-2014 academic year, the program’s eight participants are pursuing Masters degrees in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, International Affairs, Non-Profit Management and Creative Writing.

Some of our excellent Leaders reflect on the opportunity to work at Progressive Pupil and how it directly relates to their academic interests, experiences and ideals:

Justyn Richardson, a resident of the Bronx, remarks, “I wanted to work with Progressive Pupil because I knew I would be able to make a positive change, while gaining hands-on experience that relates to my program.” Richardson came to Progressive Pupil from Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm in Washington DC. He assisted in creating the contract that helped pass President Obama’s Health Care Reform policy.

Xiomara Pedraza, a native of East Harlem, states, “I wanted to work here because it gave me an opportunity to work with people who are passionate about social justice and African diaspora studies. Building awareness is part of making change and policy, which I study here at The New School.” Before Progressive Pupil, Pedraza worked at “A Place Called Home,” a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles. There, she served as coordinator for a youth after-school and summer program.

Lynda Nguyen, a native of Washington DC, explains, “I wanted to take what I learned from past experiences, as well as my own story, and see how initiatives among Asian descendant communities are similar to the work that Progressive Pupil does in terms of Black studies.” Nguyen came to Progressive Pupil from Asian American LEAD, a non-profit organization based in DC that mentors and provides specialized after-school programs to low-income underrepresented Asian American youth. She worked in their development and communications department.

All of our leaders exemplify the mission and values of Progressive Pupil, and this year, they hope to further meaningful social change, justice and knowledge of the African diaspora.

by Claudie Mabry, M.S. Candidate in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, 2014

It’s Getting Better

High school can be difficult and feeling comfortable in your own skin is something most adolescents struggle with. This Pride Month, let us remember that we’re each on a unique journey and that with love and acceptance we can make it better.


Black History Metropolis

Jet Magazine, February 10th, 1986 pg. 14

Black History Month is in full swing and we have been enjoying all that New York City has to offer.  If you haven’t had the chance to check out some BHM events around the city, it’s not too late.  Here are some of the events we recommend (whole calendar after the jump). All events are free unless otherwise noted. If you know of any events to add, send us an e-mail at