LCC and REACH create community artwork honoring Malcolm X

Learning about Malcolm X and his message of social justice was just one goal for a group of students from Lansing Community College. Another was to partner with high school teens in creating a community artwork that recognizes the civil rights activist who lived in Lansing and Mason as a youth.
From October through November, 15 sociology students from LCC got out of the classroom and traveled to REO Town to meet with 10 high schoolers in the Teen Open Studio of the REACH Studio Art Center. Students from LCC led discussions on civil rights, social inequality and Malcolm X as REACH students created a life size, freestanding mural from tiles carved with highlights of Malcolm's X's life. The finished community art project also features a casting of a hand to encourage people to take photos of themselves "shaking hands" with the influential activist.
The project between LCC and REACH was among the increasing number of service learning projects coordinated through the College's Centre for Engaged Inclusion. The project with REACH involved students from two introductory sociology classes taught by Aliza Robison, an LCC sociology and anthropology teacher.
"Service learning helps students apply what they learn in the classroom to real life," says Robison. "In this case, we talked to Lansing area high schoolers about Malcolm X, and gave them a better idea of who he was, what the social movement was about, and how social inequality relates to them."
Robison says that the project took hold, both because of Malcolm X's connection to Lansing as well his connection to sociology and change.
"He was a free thinker and looked at things critically," she says. "He dissected the world the way a sociologist would, and challenged the idea that we have to think like everyone else. We do that in higher education as well."
The freestanding mural will be unveiled in the atrium of the LCC Library located on the second floor of the Technology and Learning Center Building at 400 S. Capital Ave. on December 8 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. LCC and REACH students and staff will talk about how the mural was created and explain the meanings hidden within the art work from 5 to 5:30 p.m.
The Malcolm X Mosaic will remain in LCC's Library throughout February in celebration of Black History Month. In March 2017, the mural will be permanently installed at the Shabazz Public School Academy on Barnes Road in Lansing.
"Our hope is that projects like these help students become engaged citizens who want to learn from other people as much as they feel confident teaching others," says Robison. "Service learning is a new way of doing classwork where students feel they can experience the real world, apply what they learn, and relate concepts to their future."
Source: Aliza Robison Sociology and Anthropology Instructor, Lansing Communitiy College
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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