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The Role of the School in a Housing Program for the Community
Caption: This poster illustrates how students at Benjamin Franklin High School researched and advocated for better housing in their community.Read plain text of document
Benjamin Franklin High School students came together in clubs that celebrated their cultural identities, like Club Borinquen and clubs focused on Italian-American culture. And they worked together on projects to make change in the world, as when they gathered resources to help in the effort to win World War II.
But they also took on projects that sought and in some cases won major change in their very local community in East Harlem.
East Harlem housing was crowded, and often the buildings were in poor repair after decades of heavy use and insufficient repair. Students recognized this problem and began to document it via community study. They conducted surveys, drew maps, and talked with local politicians. In the 1930s and 1940s, programs that were part of the federal New Deal created new opportunities for cities to build public housing. Students organized rallies and put pressure on their local congressman to support new public housing for East Harlem. And he did. Public housing built in the area provided better ventilation, more light, and often more room than previous tenement apartments.1
Michael C. Johanek and John Puckett, Leonard Covello and the Making of Benjamin Franklin High School : Education as If Citizenship Mattered (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007). ↩︎
Date: c. late 1930s
Creator: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Leonard Covello and Benjamin Franklin High School campaign for adequate housing in East Harlem, 1933-1965
Source: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Leonard Covello and Benjamin Franklin High School campaign for adequate housing in East Harlem, 1933-1965
Copyright: Public domain
How to cite: “The Role of the School in a Housing Program for the Community,” School-Community Research Bureau of the Benjamin Franklin High School, in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/gallery/school-housing-program.
- What did Benjamin Franklin HS students do to improve housing in their neighborhood?
- How was joy part of this process? How was struggle part of this process?
- In what ways do students at your school work together to connect to your community outside of your school and to make change?
- If you were to work with fellow students to make change, what issue would you work on? What goal would you set? How would joy be part of your work?