Let the Little Light Shine

When a thriving, top-ranked African American elementary school is threatened to be replaced by a new high school favoring the community’s wealthier residents, parents, students and educators fight for the elementary school’s survival.

Nestled between busy highways and elevated trains, the National Teachers Academy Elementary School (NTA) resides in Chicago’s fastest-growing, rapidly-gentrifying “South Loop” neighborhood. NTA’s student population of primarily working class, African-American children are thriving. The school received Chicago’s top-ranking for educational achievement.     But in the Fall of 2017, the city announced a plan to transform NTA into a high school. Despite its successes, residents new to the area lobbied to transition NTA into a high school with support from Chicago’s school board and a powerful group of politicians, including the mayor.     The city claims the transition will further integrate the community, but parents, students, and staff at NTA feel the move is racist and discriminatory. They believe getting rid of NTA as an elementary school panders to a community with more political power, accelerating not only the whitening of schools in the neighborhood, but of the city as well. Under attack and ignored, parents, students and educators plan a grassroots campaign to save their community. Their fight will take them from city streets to a historic courtroom battle, where the future of a school and the makeup of a great American city lies in the balance.


LET THE LITTLE LIGHT SHINE Teaser from Kevin Shaw on Vimeo.


"A tale of Chicago activism triumphs at True/False"

Chicago Tribune

"Public school doc “Let the Little Light Shine” excels"

L.A. Times

"Small voices create huge inspiration at world premiere of 'Let the Little Light Shine'"

The Maneater

“'Let the Little Light Shine' Offers a Radiant Portrait of Rebellion at an Elementary School Fighting for its Future"

The Moveable Fest