Local publishing outfit extraordinaire The Neighborhood Story Project will celebrate the release of its newest installment, Talking Back to History, with a reception and reading from seven high school contributors at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Neighborhood Story Project Offices (2202 Lapeyrouse St.).
Talking Back to History is a collection of essays by students at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School in which the students explore and illuminate stories that may have been overlooked by traditional history. The wide-ranging stories include one writer’s investigation into her great-grandmother’s work as a civil rights activist and another’s reflection on art as self-love. They are connected by the students’ deep engagement with their subjects and commitment to honoring their truths.
Each author contributed two essays to the book. For the first essay, each student interviewed a mentor, family member, or public figure they admire. In preparation for their second essays, students learned about the 1811 slave revolt, visited the Whitney Plantation, and hosted Holocaust survivor Anne Levy and poet and activist Dr. Niyi Osundare.
Talking Back to History is part of an ongoing collaboration between NSP and the New Beginnings Schools Foundation that has created a bookshelf of works by high school students over the past five years. Other titles from the collaboration are 2020: A Look Back (2010); New Orleans in 19 Movements (2011); Bildingsroman from Room 246 (2012); and Straight Outta Swampton (2013).
Other publications by the Neighborhood Story Project include oral histories of the Desire Projects by the Nine Times Social Aid and Pleasure Club and of the New Orleans Race Track by the people who work on its “back side,” among many other outstanding works.