Arts and culture journalist and former Deep writing fellow Kristopher Monroe has written a feature in Savannah Morning News describing how our young artists in Block by Block partnered with Stephanie Toliver of University of Georgia to create a learning module around Afrofuturism–just in time for the release of Black Panther. All of this because one of our young writers pushed us to integrate science fiction writing into our program.

The teens in Block by Block engage with their community in hands-on ways to give a voice to stories that might not otherwise have been told and to highlight Savannah’s cultural assets and its civic challenges. In the course of a recent Block by Block writing exercise, program director Keith Miller encountered a student who was steadfastly resistant to writing nonfiction. The student was a fan of science fiction and wanted to communicate through that medium. Since Miller wasn’t particularly well-versed in the sci-fi genre, he sat down with the student to understand the perspective and concerns.

“It ended up being a really powerful moment for the program, because we had to ask ourselves, are we in the business of empowering artists, or are we really in the business of empowering artists?” explains Miller. “Given the nature of Block by Block specifically being about uplifting the voices of those around you, we never really thought about how science fiction could do that.”

As Miller worked with the student, he was astonished at how powerful a genre like science fiction could be when it comes to addressing issues like social justice and personal empowerment.

“This was yet a new way, an evolution the program could take to make sure we were honoring the full stories of our youth and their full talents,” says Miller.

Check out the full article: “Deep Center Explores Afrofuturism, ‘Black Panther’ Film.”