Capitol Hill Day School 1968 Oral History Project (Apr2019 Hill Rag)

Capitol Hill Day School 1968 Oral History Project (Apr2019 Hill Rag)
Emily Prigg

Photographer Phil Portlock presents his 1968 Photo Essay to CHDS middle schoolers.

This year, Capitol Hill Day School 5th-8th Graders are focused on working towards positive change by ensuring that people's stories are told and their perspectives valued. During Black History Month, 7th and 8th Graders interviewed many African American local residents who lived in Washington, DC in 1968, and experienced the turmoil of that era. In creating a 1968 oral history project, students identified important themes, including culture, activism, family, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more.

To prepare, students brainstormed good interview questions, then researched important events of 1968 (MLK assassination, DC riots, Vietnam War protests, Black Power Salute at Olympics). Students realized these could be very sensitive and emotional topics for the interviewees, who included two CHDS teachers, and people of all ages from different parts of DC.

They also interviewed CHDS alum parent and African American photographer Phil Portlock, who lived in DC in 1968 and began using his camera that year to document the Civil Rights Movement. He shared his Photo Essay of 1968, and his personal story, with the middle school students.

Students are creating podcasts to share their perspectives based on what they learned from their interviews. Some students may enter their podcasts in the NPR School Podcast Challenge. Winning entries will be featured on NPR in April - stay tuned!

Learn more about Capitol Hill Day School with a small group tour, or a Farren's Stable "drop in" to see our exciting new middle school space. Go to to schedule your visit.

Submitted by Jane Angarola. Capitol Hill Day School is located at 210 South Carolina Ave, SE. For more information, call 202-386-9919 or visit, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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