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Mosaic Youth Theatre recreates 1966 student walkout in Detroit

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"Northern Lights 1966" looks at the student-led walkout that took place in Detroit 45 years ago.

The Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will perform a play this weekend to commemorate the anniversary of a student walkout at Detroit Public Schools.

The walkout took place 45 years ago, when students at Northern High School in Detroit were so fed up with the poor quality of education they were getting they walked out and formed their own student-run school at a church nearby. The called it the Freedom School. The students stayed there until the school board met their demands for a better education.

Fast forward to today, and many Detroit public schools are still in trouble. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is quoted in 2009 as having called the district "ground zero" when it comes to education.

Courtney Burkett directed the show. She says the message of the play still rings true for many students:

"I think the takeaway for the students is that they can make a change in their environment; thaat they need to be having these conversations and asking questions about why things are the way they are, and understanding that they have the power to make changes if changes need to be made."

The play is called Northern Lights 1966, and it runs this weekend and next at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of Arts. Ticket information is here.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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