The Bronx, New York has been the subject of many documentaries, each of which has been used to advocate for or promote activism in some way. Decade of Fire is a powerful example of this, as it covers a shocking but untold part of American urban history - when the South Bronx burned down in the 1970s. The film reaches its climax with the destruction of Penn Station, the battle for the Lower Manhattan Highway, the social and fiscal crises of the 60s and 70s, and the miraculous rebirth of New York in the last quarter of a century. Tribeca Teaches is another example of how documentaries can be used for advocacy or activism.
This seven-part, 14-and-a-half hour television event places teaching artists in more than 30 schools in New York districts, where they teach students the theory and practice of cinematography, including screenwriting, storyboarding, interviewing, camera work, editing, and other multimedia skills. The Thin Blue Line is another documentary that has moved legal, social or political needles. This nine-minute film chronicles the daily challenges of sharing a building with students who attend a completely different school (more than 50 percent of New York City schools are located in the same place) and documents the efforts of TYWLS and I. It provides an opportunity to explore how the act of telling a story can become a story in itself.
In addition to these examples, Common Core's adoption has opened up new possibilities for documentaries to be used for advocacy or activism. Documentaries can now function as informational texts that expand students' critical literacy skills and encourage them to connect with social justice issues, possibly by making their own films. Finally, exploring the views and passions of some writers and discussing how New York has inspired and nurtured them can also be used as a form of advocacy or activism. For decades, Vivian Vázquez Irizarry has led educational, GED completion and college access programs for young people throughout New York City. In conclusion, there are many ways in which documentaries about the Bronx, New York have been utilized to advance causes or promote activism.
From Decade of Fire to Tribeca Teaches to The Thin Blue Line to Common Core's adoption to exploring writers' views on New York City - these are just some examples of how documentaries have been used to promote change.