With your help, Mighty Writers is getting ready to air our first full-length audio documentary in Philadelphia and across the country during Black History Month.
The idea for doing a radio documentary on Black radio in Philadelphia came to us during a discussion about Black History Month among teens in a new media workshop at Mighty Writers.
"All my life I've been hearing about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King during Black History Month," said Nafeesah, one of our Mighty high school writers. "Both are great and historic Black Americans. But why aren't we taught about those that came before us right here in Philadelphia?"
That's when it hit us: Why not the great pioneering African-American radio jocks of yesteryear?
Legends like Douglas "Jocko" Henderson. Georgie Woods (pictured). Louise Williams. Jimmy Bishop. Sonny Hopson. Carl Helm. Harvey Holiday. Butterball.
Great Philadelphia disc jockeys every one. And our Mighty kids know nothing about them.
From the '50s through the '70s, these great disc jockeys played records the white stations wouldn't and relied on their outsized personalities for ratings. And the stations they worked for -- WDAS, in Philadelphia, most specifically -- covered news and events the mainstream media ignored. Both management and the jocks saw community service as a shared responsibility.
Partnering with talented radio professionals, we've recaptured the glory days of Black radio in Philadelphia through our Mighty Radio project.
The result is "Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio," a radio documentary hosted by legendary Sound of Philadelphia music producer Kenny Gamble.
Listeners to the radio documentary will hear the exciting patter of the jocks of yesteryear, plus first-person accounts of civil rights events, including a 1964 interview with Malcolm X on WDAS just a few months before his assassination.
The documentary also includes a soundtrack featuring jazz, gospel and soul hits from the 50s through the 70s.
"Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio" will air on WXPN on Monday, February 3, from 8-10pm, and on WHYY on Sunday, February 16, at 6pm, and on Saturday, February 22, at 2pm.
Above all, this project has been a chance to engage an audience of kids, parents and grandparents, and to revive an important part of music and Civil Rights history.
Thank you for the part you've played in making this possible.
At Mighty Writers, we don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to say we're thankful for you.
Because you did all this in the past year by supporting our efforts:
Without your support, this list would not be nearly so Mighty.
First, a look back at our first school year of new media programs for teens:
From September 2012 to June 2013, Mighty Writers 2.0 programs engaged and served 108 Philadelphia teens (ages 13-18) through single-session and long-term (4-8 sessions) new media workshops. Classes included "Philly Photo Day," "iBlog: Her City, Her Voice" and "How to Get a Job in TV News." Over the course of each workshop, students created digital content showcased on Mighty Post (mightypost.org), our news blog and social network with content generated by Philadelphia high school students.
And now it's summer.
This week, we launched Summer on South, our first-ever two-week summer writing and digital journalism camp for rising 9th and 10th graders. Summer on South runs Monday through Thursday, 9am-3pm, July 8 to July 1. Twelve Philadelphia high school students have been sharpening their writing skills (and having big fun) by joining other city teens for this eight-day summer experience. Each day begins early with fun creative writing exercises. Next, local journalist (and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist) Annette John-Hall takes over with her popular sportswriting class. The day concludes with Andrea Bullard, director of new media programs at Mighty Writers, teaching her blogging workshop. We’ve also been lunching with guest writers from local publications and blogs. So far: Steve Volk from Philadelphia Magazine, novelist Liz Moore ("Heft") and Philadelphia Daily News crime reporter Morgan Zalot.
And we've got more new media classes on the way. Stay tuned!
It's a good time to be Mighty!
With your support, Mighty Writers has been able to deliver a growing roster of new media workshops over the last few months.
We're in the middle of our third round of the "iBlog" workshop, which teaches high school females to create their own blogs.
We just wrapped "How To Get a Job in TV News," which resulted in this Mighty Writers Sports Update, filmed at Fox 29 Philly, produced by workshop leader Anthony Hopkins and starring two stellar Philly teens—Raven and Jonathan: http://youtu.be/18WRkHZssBw.
Next up? A radio workshop, "Get Your Story on the Radio," which will give teens an opportunity to create and edit real radio reports that will be posted to the Mighty Post website at mightypost.org.
And we're busy planning a zombie-themed workshop where high schoolers will write their own script for an episode of "The Walking Dead."
In the meantime, we're gearing up to open a second full-scale Mighty Writers center for kids, ages seven to 17, in West Philadelphia. This will enable us to serve an additional 700 kids in the coming year, beyond the 1,250 kids we already reach through our South Philadelphia center and new media programs.
As always, we have a lot cooking at Mighty Writers, and it wouldn't be possible without your ongoing support.
Nearly 50 percent of Philadelphia students don't graduate from high school. It's our job to keep them engaged, confident and motivated to be leaders. We can't do it alone, though—we need your help.
I hope you will be inspired to make a donation and that you'll continue to support us this spring as we embark on our West Philadelphia expansion and continue to improve our new media initiative—all with the goal of preparing Philly kids to succeed and excel.
What better time to send a project report, and note of Mighty gratitude, than the beginning of a brand new year -- just days after the close of Mighty Writers' most successful year to date?
With your help, we surpassed our annual fundraising goal, which means we're heading into 2013 feeling confident that we can continue to deliver free writing programs for more than 1,200 kids at our home base in South Philly, improve upon new projects like multimedia writing workshops at Mighty Writers 2.0 and the Mighty Post website for high schoolers, and expand to serve even more kids in a brand new West Philadelphia center.
I hope you will take a moment to watch the videos below, particularly the first -- "An inside look at Mighty Writers' sportswriting class" -- which features words from Philadelphia Inquirer writer and longtime MW volunteer Annette John-Hall, a Mighty high school student, and MW executive director Tim Whitaker.
This video captures exactly what happens at Mighty Writers every day, and it gives you a look at our new Mighty Writers 2.0 center on South Street in Philly. The center houses new media classes for high schoolers, like sportswriting, blogging, social networking and mobile reporting. It's also the home base for our team of high school editors for the Mighty Post website.
Your generosity made it possible for Mighty Writers to expand our services this year, to accommodate and empower even more Philadelphia students. We hope you will continue to support our students once again in 2013.
Thank you again, and happy New Year.
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