Insight: Changing the World, One Wall at a Time

This is an insight written by Ashli Taylor on a screening of the film Changing the World, One Wall at a Time, hosted by the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace. 

Education Is Not A Crime

On Monday, April 16, 2018 the Bahá’í Chair held a film screening of the documentary entitled “Changing the World, One Wall at a Time” which tells the story of Education Is Not A Crime – one of the world’s largest street art and human rights campaign to raise awareness of education discrimination by Iran’s government against tens of thousands of young Bahá’ís.

Since Bahá’í’s are banned from attending institutes of higher education many are forced to leave the country or attend the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which is an informal and ad hoc institution of higher education. Graduates of BIHE are able to obtain a college degree, but it is at constant risk of being shut down by the authorities, and the students face a constant struggle in their desire to better themselves by getting an education.

Although one of the co-founders of the Education Is Not A Crime movement is Iranian, he is not a Bahá’í, which truly struck me because it shows his empathy towards the largest minority within the country. The movement took a very simple but powerful message to the streets by having street artists from around the world depict their interpretation of Education Is Not A Crime on city blocks all over the world. Through artwork this movement attempts to combat this horrific injustice.

The movement was born out of the struggles the Bahá’í community face in Iran, but the message is adaptable to status of minorities all over the world. In antebellum America, it was a crime for black slaves in America to learn to read. Even in places like South Africa during Apartheid, education was given to people of color, but it was not taught at the same quality as those who were considered to be the majority. It is easy for people of different backgrounds to rally behind this movement because these sentiments are echoed in many communities around the world.

The film is another outlet for the movement to gain traction around the world for those who are unable to see the beautiful street pieces. In addition to murals, the movement generates digital art, and community workshops to link various groups in the struggle to advocate for the universal right to an education. The movement is continuing to gain support around the world.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion with, Dr. Hoda Mahmoudi, The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, Mr. Saleem Vaillancourt, Campaign Coordinator “Education Is Not A Crime”, Dr. La Marr Jurelle Bruce, Assistant Professor of American Studies, UMD, College Park, Ms. Audra Buck-Coleman, Associate Professor and Graphic Design Program Director at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Dr. Catherine Knight Steele, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, UMD, College Park.

You can watch the introduction and panel discussion here:

The full film can be viewed here:

Photo Credit: All photos from Education is Not a Crime


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