New Documentary Sparks Discussions About Race, Equity at Oak Park High School

People gather in the Oak Park and River Forest High School cafeteria to discuss their reactions to the new documentary that was filmed at the school. It raises questions about how black students in particular are treated at the school, which is considered high performing, diverse and progressive.
People gather in the Oak Park and River Forest High School cafeteria to discuss their reactions to the new documentary that was filmed at the school. It raises questions about how black students in particular are treated at the school, which is considered high performing, diverse and progressive. Linda Lutton/WBEZ
People gather in the Oak Park and River Forest High School cafeteria to discuss their reactions to the new documentary that was filmed at the school. It raises questions about how black students in particular are treated at the school, which is considered high performing, diverse and progressive.
People gather in the Oak Park and River Forest High School cafeteria to discuss their reactions to the new documentary that was filmed at the school. It raises questions about how black students in particular are treated at the school, which is considered high performing, diverse and progressive. Linda Lutton/WBEZ

New Documentary Sparks Discussions About Race, Equity at Oak Park High School

Hundreds of people gathered at Oak Park and River Forest High School Sunday evening to watch the first episode of the new documentary TV series America to Me, as it premiered to the nation.

Filmmaker Steve James — who made the movie Hoop Dreams — spent an entire school year inside Oak Park and River Forest High School, known as one of the area’s most successful, diverse, and progressive schools. The documentary examines issues of race and equity and questions whether black students at the school — who make up a quarter of the student body — are getting an equal education or even feel welcome there.

The high school does not always come off well in the 10-part series, but the school is screening every episode — and hosting small group discussions afterwards. Last night, more than 200 people stayed to talk about what they’d seen. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton was there — and listened in.

Click the “play” button above to hear some of the discussion.

Linda Lutton is an education reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @WBEZeducation or @lindalutton.