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Inspiring Citizen Action with the National Screening Room

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In the October 2018  issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article focuses on a film featured in the Library’s new National Screening Room, “The House I Live In.”  In the film, Frank Sinatra, on a break during a recording session, breaks up a fight where a group of boys threaten and bully another boy because of his religion. The film features the song “The House I Live In,” composed by Abel Meeropol, who also wrote the lyrics to the Billie Holiday song “Strange Fruit.” Commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith, the movie was awarded an honorary Academy Award and a special Golden Globe Award. In 2007, the film was selected by the Librarian of Congress for addition to the National Film Registry.

Frank Sinatra from the film “The House I Live In

The article explores the background of Abel Meeropol and how his activism shaped his career and his life.  It also encourages students to learn more about the people involved in the creation of the film and how their activism changed the course of their lives.  Students are asked to consider changes made to the song for the movie and why those changes were made. Also considered are the events taking place at the time of the movie and if the movie is still relevant today. Finally, students are asked to consider the role of various media from motion pictures to social media in sharing opinions and points of view. What are the strengths of sharing information through each media type?

To extend this activity, encourage students to explore the Library’s National Screening Room. A description of the Screening Room is provided in a sidebar article written by Mike Mashon, Head of the Moving Image section at the Library. Items currently included in the Screening Room present the All-American News, a news magazine for African American audiences; a film explaining how television works; films on protecting the water supply; and interviews with notables such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Adam Clayton Powell, Bayard Rustin and others who participated in the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the third anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision.

How will you incorporate these films into your classroom activities? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Could you provide a DOI or other link to the “Sources and Strategies” article mentioned? It sounds like a wonderful resource. Thank you!

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