Roxbury students' film project celebrates Black History Month

By Julia Green
In 1963, it was “I Have a Dream.”
Twenty-five years later, it was “Yes We Can.”
In some ways, the world is a very different place than it was during the civil rights’ movement of the mid-1960s. In others, it’s the same world with a different set of challenges.
February is Black History Month, and three Roxbury Central School (RCS) students have created a project that pays homage to a time in United States history where the concept of a black president was viewed as little more than a pipe dream.
On an assignment from Rinda Mattice, who teaches government at RCS, students were required to select any person and create a presentation in any form. The topic: social justice in the United States.
A trio of Roxbury seniors, Tim Douglas, Jefferson Piasek and Ryan Skipper, batted around a few ideas, including the Little Rock Nine, before settling on Martin Luther King Jr.
“Out of all of them, he was the most inspirational,” Skipper said.
“The elections kind of drove a lot of decisions,” Mattice added. “We talked a lot about race.”
The assignment was given right after the election, and the class studied a number of videos on the popular video sharing Web site YouTube in their research for the project.
Douglas, Piasek and Skipper’s project manifested itself in musical format. The result: “MLK Tribute,” a song written by Skipper with music by Piasek, which was then laid over a video collage of images of King and quotes attributed to the activist. Fellow Roxbury student Nathaniel Liddle created the video to supplement the music.
The group’s musical interests manifested before the project assignment, when during the summer Douglas suggested to Piasek that they could make beats with his keyboard.
“When the project came along, it was the perfect opportunity to do something with it,” Piasek said.
Everything on the track was recorded live, the result of roughly 18 or 19 hours of recording outside school, and the students received a lot of encouragement from their peers.
“The class was very supportive,” Skipper said.
Mattice is planning to share the students’ creation with the Roxbury faculty and the students are looking into copyrighting the song, which may get airtime on Sirius Satellite Radio deejay Meg Griffin’s show in the near future.
And the project seems to have whet the trio’s recording whistle.
“We wanted to do another song for Obama,” Skipper said. “We just need to figure out how to get school credit for it.”