Director Kevin Shaw revealed the official trailer for Let the Little Light Shine, his new documentary that follows African American parents-turned-organizers, when their top-ranked elementary school is threatened to be replaced by a new high school favoring the community’s wealthier residents, parents, students and educators fight for the elementary school’s survival.
The documentary premiered at the 2022 True/False Film Festival and will open on August 12 in Chicago – Siskel Film Center; on August 26 in New York – IFC Center ; and on September 9 in Los Angeles – Laemmle Monica.
Let the Little Light Shine follows African American parents-turned-organizers, alongside students and staff as they advocate to keep their top-ranked school, The National Teachers Academy (NTA), open when it is threatened to be transformed into a high school favoring the needs of the community’s wealthier residents. The school has served as a safe haven for children and a community bedrock in The South Loop, Chicago’s fastest growing neighborhood. The film also posits the point-of-view of residents in favor of changing NTA into a high school that is sorely needed for its neighborhood. Shaw carefully considers race and other factors at play – class, which is intertwined with race, gentrification, power, privilege, and politics – as they collide to create discord amongst a community that wanted the same thing – the best possible education for their children.
Watch the trailer for Let the Little Light Shine.
“I made this film to understand why there was a movement in a booming Chicago neighborhood to close a high-performing, top-ranked elementary school that serviced a majority Black student population and transform that institution into a high school, potentially causing more harm than good to neighborhood families. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the adage goes. Race, obviously and unfortunately, figured into the equation, but there were other factors at play – class, which is intertwined with race, gentrification, power, privilege, and politics all had a hand in creating discord amongst a community that wanted the same thing — the best possible education for their children. The ways to achieve that goal was different for each set of residents, reminding us of harsh inequities and bias existing in our country. This story is not unique to Chicago; it is reflective of our American experience, one where Black and Brown communities still must fight for not only a seat at the table, but in this instance, an equitable place to learn.” – Kevin Shaw.