CHARLESTON, SC - Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) has partnered with Burke High School to provide support to its sophomore students as they complete a special project that highlights the topic of civil rights suppression around the world. CCPL staff members are providing technical support to the students as they work on their assignment and create a graphic historical novel based on the themes of oppression found in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe.  

Burke’s English and Social Studies classes were assigned to read the novel, which features the story of Okonkwo, a man who has worked hard to earn prestige in his village and who sees the traditions of his people being eroded by white missionaries and government officials. Using the context of the novel, the students must develop their own characters to tell a story about how political oppression has affected marginalized groups throughout history. 

The students’ stories must be based on historical evidence and first-person accounts, and CCPL staff members recently presented lectures at Burke High School to assist the students in their story development and enable them to effectively investigate and communicate how imperialism and the suppression of civil rights impacts people around the world. Katie Gray, CCPL’s Archivist, taught the students research skills they could utilize; Sam Tyson, CCPL’s Digital Content Coordinator, gave a lecture about interview techniques; and Rachel Hall, Library Assistant in the Young Adult department, taught the students technical skills in graphic design and writing skills to help them with their storyboards and narratives. 

On Thursday, Jan. 18, CCPL will host the 75 sophomores at the Main branch, located at 68 Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston, to further assist them in the completion of their projects. Students will tour the Archive and Young Adult sections of the library, watch a CCPL-produced documentary featuring their journey through this assignment, and record some of their work on the CCPL radio station, WYLA (97.5 FM). All of the students will also be signed up to receive their own library cards.

“The library is committed to sustaining our connection with Burke High School, which is served by our Main and John L. Dart branches. We continue working to strengthen that connection through outreach, library programs and partnered library projects involving students at the school,” said CCPL Deputy Director Darlene Jackson. “Through partnerships like this one, we are attracting potential lifelong library users, supporters and even future employees.” 

Once the graphic novels are completed, CCPL will have them printed, bound and entered into CCPL’s Archive Collection so that future generations of Charleston County residents may learn from their stories. The novels will also be featured in temporary displays at the Main Library and the John L. Dart Library.

The special assignment is part of Burke High School’s participation in the New Tech Network, which empowers and challenges students to learn and succeed, to collaborate and communicate, and to engage in the world around them through project-based learning.

CCPL would like to thank Charleston County School District for their efforts in developing the collaboration and D'Allesandro's Pizza for their assistance in feeding 75 hungry teenagers. 

For more information on CCPL and its programs, visit www.ccpl.org.