From the Community to the Classroom

The vision here is educational equity in our schools, and the project is a film called “From the Community to the Classroom.” A youth-directed documentary about Davis youths’ work to bring educational equity to their classrooms, the film is directed by Clifford Garibay, a Davis High graduate, Sac City student and staff member at Davis Media Access (DMA). It makes its “red carpet premiere” at The Varsity Theater in Davis on Sunday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m. and you are cordially invited to attend.

I probably don’t write often enough about our wonderful staff here at DMA, but Cliff is a remarkable young man. Now 20, I first met him when he was 18 and getting trained at DMA for what were the seeds of this film. One of a number of students working with the equally remarkable Jann Murray-Garcia, M.D., MPH, Cliff was involved with Catalysts for Social Justice (formerly called Youth in Focus Student Research Scholars), an action research organization committed to addressing issues of social and academic equity. He and cohort Andrew Bruch spent countless hours in the editing booth cutting a rough of their footage. Cliff has continued to work on the film nonstop for the past several months.

YIF/CSJ Student Research Scholars, after their training and team building, are charged with updating quantitative statistics profiling the racial/ethnic achievement and discipline gaps at Davis High School and throughout the city. They have also designed and implemented their own group research projects, with topics including performance expectations and race/ethnicity, students’ perspectives on racial disparities in academic performance and discipline patterns, and growing up biracial in Davis. Most impressively, they have traveled to present this information with other students and educators, in one case going as far as New York City to do so.

Cliff gets the academic aspect of all of this, but his passion is in filmmaking, and its here he’s made his contribution. A quiet young man, Cliff is the eldest of four boys and the son of migrant farm workers. We have shared conversations about the paths that open before us, and of taking chances. We have talked about the choices open to the son of farm workers, and the daughter of a steelworker and union organizer, and of finding ourselves on common ground here in Davis, in community media, each trying to make a positive contribution. I am inspired by Cliff and his dedication to this work.

DMA has worked with Dr. Murray-Garcia on this and related projects over the years, and she deserves many accolades for helping these kids to believe in their worth and integrity, and for providing them with tools and support to do this work. She served as producer for “From the Community to the Classroom.”

The film has been made possible with the assistance of The Sierra Health Foundation and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Program. DMA is proud to help sponsor the premiere event on May 17 and I’d like to encourage you to attend. The film is rated G and is suitable for general audiences. Tickets and more information are available by contacting Dr. Murray-Garcia at or by calling (530) 753-7443.

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