Client ········· 826LA
Medium ········· Print

Each year, 826LA partners with one Los Angeles public school to create a beautifully composed, impeccably designed collection of student writing. This intensive project is called the Young Authors’ Book Project.

The 2015 Young Authors’ Book Project resulted in We Are Alive When We Speak for Justice, a collection of essays which has been highlighted on NPR and in the Los Angeles Times, used as a text in college courses at UCLA and Cal State LA, and is included in teacher training by Teach for America.

In the 1940s, after their children were denied access to “whites only” schools, a group of Latino families in Southern California won Mendez v. Westminster, which led to the desegregation of California schools and was a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education.
In 2015, at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School in Los Angeles, fifty-seven students delved into this under-represented moment in history, and the story of the namesake family of their school, to write We Are Alive When We Speak For Justice. The book is a collection of personal and historical essays about a legacy of social justice in education and features interviews with activists, historians, and community leaders including Gustavo Arellano, Bobby Verdugo, Evelina Fernandez, and Sylvia Mendez herself.

Not only was I able to design the cover and interior, but I also met the students of the editorial board several times to explain my design process, gather their input on what type of book they wanted, and help them choose a book title. At the end of it all, 826LA threw a book release party where the students saw their books for the first time, and read to an audience of peers and family. 

All photos courtesy of 826LA.

 The book was divided into three sections, each featuring a photo pulled from the LAPL archive reflecting issues of the time. 
2019 — Echo Park,
Los Angeles