KIMBERLY THOMAS'S CLASS

In Ms. Thomas's History class, students were assigned an oral history project where they would interview someone, write a process paper, and create art (i.e. activism). Check out five of these projects below.

Each project features the narrator's name and an excerpt from their oral history; the student's artivism, inspired by their oral history interview; and a brief explanation of how the oral history shaped their artwork. 

These oral histories have been edited for length and are shared with the narrator's permission. Student work (i.e. artivism) is shared with permission. 

See the assignment, for classroom use, here

 

ALEXUS

My favorite subject in school was science because I got to learn unique characteristics of the human body. 

My primary language is English; however, I speak both Spanish and English. 

The person that had the most positive influence on my life is my grandfather. My grandfather was a very hard working man who was in full support for his family and cared for others, even strangers. He showed what a true man is and how a man should treat his spouse with respect and love--always.

The most stressful experience that I have ever lived through was not being able to continue my nursing education. What helped me really get through this stressful experience was the support of my family. They helped me understand that there can be something better out there for me and to not feel like a failure. 

The best job I've had so far has to be working with [a local] county because I love being at service for the public and also feeling appreciated. 

Ziclarlli's explanation for their spoken word poem (featured in the video), viewable above: "The way I decided to do my artivism project was by first asking my interviewer, 'How would you describe the community you live in? If you can change anything in your community, what would it be? Why?' After asking my interviewer these questions she responded that there has been too much violence in this community that is uncalled for....Her answer helped me decide that I wanted to create a poem....In my poem I stated that Moreno Valley is part of a world that we can no longer be who we truly are because if we act like who we truly are we begin to get judged, made fun of, or not accepted....This celebrates social justice because once we all accept each other there will no longer be as much hate and judgement. We will finally be equal and at peace."

 

GLENN

My mom encouraged me to be my best self. 

The most stressful event I have experienced was my father's death. He was a hard worker who supported his family. 

I would describe my community as detached. No one knows anyone. There needs to be more connection with others. I want to add homeless shelters to give people somewhere to live and care for themselves. Also, to give them psychological help, if needed. There are useless empty warehouses, wasting away. 

My advice to my younger self would be to respect yourself, be on time, do your best, and just do you. 

Nadia's explanation of their artivism, pictured below: "To show [Glenn's] response to 'How do you describe the community you live in' is by painting on a rock I found at the beach. [It represents] that no matter what, all the rocks are all different and unique, whether they're ugly and cracked or beautiful. However, the painting on it shows how homeless people are badly treated in this community....In the center, I painted a face with a crack in the middle, representing the differences in Moreno Valley."

 

HARRY

I went to Johnstown High School, which is located in Johnstown Pennsylvania. I had two favorite subjects. One was actually art because I was very artistic, and my secondary love was my machine shop class because I was actually a machinist who made special projects and stuff.

The best job I ever had was being an F-16 a jet fighter crew chief and the worst job I had was being a B-52 bomber weapons mechanic and the reason why that was the worst job is because every area on the B-52 requires 12 ft ladders in order to reach the items that I was responsible for so you're constantly going up and down a 12 foot ladder.

I would describe the community that I live in as a very nice community. [It's] very people-oriented. All of the neighbors talk to one another and we all try to get along.

Justin's explanation of their artivism, a musical piece linked below: "My goal was to create a peaceful euphonium piece that would be played to further join the community. [Harry] described the community as very people-oriented and nice, where people could come together and get along. The only thing that he said that he would change is the amount of taxes we pay. For my artivism, most of the inspiration came from different calm sounding euphonium and tuba quartets."

 

LUZ

I went to school in Mexico till I was 11 years old. Then, I moved to America with my family. I really enjoyed history and English because it was interesting to me. But I am completely Mexican. I am Christian. I believe in God and that he loves us all and that no matter what, God loves you, and will forgive you for anything. He created us and put us on this earth, and we need to do. Our purpose is to live out our life to the fullest and never give up. 

Here, people are very distant and on their own....One thing I would change is communication. We need to talk to each other more, like simple things. "Hi! How are you?" "How are you doing?" Stuff like that.

Brison's explanation of their artivism, pictured below: "We are called a community, but are we really? Aren’t communities supposed to be together? Aren’t we supposed to feel safe? And it has nothing to do with the spike in crimes around here because we have always felt this way. Even before things started happening, no one has really felt completely safe. So what is it that needs to change? Communication." 

 

MICHELLE

The best job I have ever had is the job I do now, being a nurse because I get to help people. I get to see people get better and get back to their loved ones. 

I influenced myself to get better, be better, and do better. I advanced despite everything that happened in my life and went on in my life. I didn't let anything or anyone tell me "no," no matter how long it took. I kept pushing through to be the nurse and person I am. 

Ah'rie's explanation of their artivism, pictured below: "Turning [Michelle's] words into an artivism piece was very challenging based on her word. I started by putting her words into a more figurative stand point rather than a literal one. Her words had so much depth, so much meaning and yet couldn’t be expressed by word alone. [She] describes the community she lives in as a seemingly safe one despite the numerous criminal activity and a less reactive neighborhood watch. The only thing she really wishes she could change about the community involves factors from the city she was raised in, Los Angeles. Despite LA’s environment and background, it was still home to her and not a time goes by where she doesn’t miss being there. Memories of her past linger in that city, the part of her that was once an adventurous young child and the part of her that was once free."

 

Website created for Oral Histories of the Inland Empire (2018).