Elroy Johnson, a journalism master’s student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), recently won best student film for his documentary “Building the Bridge” at the DC Black Film Festival in Washington, D.C.
The film highlights the experiences of three African American teenage boys in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-based program. It explores the lack of exposure youth of color have to STEM opportunities and what community members, educators and parents are doing to address this concern in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff, Texas. Johnson, a Dallas native who currently works as a social studies teacher in the city, was first inspired to document Oak Cliff due to a family connection: his parents grew up in the neighborhood.
As an educator, Johnson realized that there was a need within his community of Oak Cliff for a conversation about educational equity and disparity. He saw an opportunity to document students from underrepresented groups in particular as a way to engage the community on the students’ need for STEM resources.
“There are definitely organizations and educators that are trying to engage students with STEM opportunities – particularly students that are marginalized that are not as reached in this area,” Johnson said, “There’s also a lack of actually knowing how to find these resources. There’s a disconnect in some ways with [students] knowing where to access these resources and how to use them.”
Johnson’s film helps to highlight the efforts of Oak Cliff community members in showcasing STEM resources and addressing the issue of educational disparity.
After completing his master’s degree, Johnson plans to continue storytelling through documentaries and films focused on education and other social issues.
The film is sponsored by the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture. To view the trailer for the award-winning documentary, click here.
The DC Black Film Festival exhibits film, web series and television content by and about people of African descent. The festival is committed to discovering, celebrating and helping films and filmmakers.