Social Justice

LREI has been committed to social justice since its founding in 1921. These are just a few examples of the countless ways this commitment is expressed on a daily basis throughout the LREI community.

1939
Democracy Pamphlet

Democracy Pamphlet

As is promised in LREI’s mission statement, “Students graduate from our diverse community as active participants in our democratic society,…”  Elisabeth Irwin and three of her early colleagues, in the language of the times, shares their thoughts on this important..Read More

1944
EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI students interview journalist Celila Ventura about her Italian heritage in an effort to understand the Italian-American community just east of the school. “Instead of interviewing, I was interviewed by thirty well-behaved, friendly children,” Ventura writes. “Their questions ranged from..Read More

1945
Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

LRSH students participated in the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief’s Winter Clothing Campaign to aid Yugoslav children in need.

1945
LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

Paul Coburn, a ten-year-old at LRSH, made a speech before the State Legislature, in favor of the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, which would make New York the first state to enact legislation curtailing the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees based on race, religion, or creed...Read More

1945
Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

10-year old LRSH students fight to end racial bias and advocate for legislation banning discrimination in employment based on race, creed, color, and national origin by forming the Abraham Lincoln Carries On club. They wrote to Mayor Laguardia, urging him..Read More

1945
EI Students Send Christmas Boxes to European Children

EI Students Send Christmas Boxes to European Children

EI students send ninety Christmas boxes of goods to European children in need in Russia, Yugoslavia, France, and Greece.

1946
Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Ninth graders visit the Phelps-Dodge Strike at the Phelps-Dodge Copper Products Corporation plant in Elizabeth, NJ. The eight-month-old strike was one of the longest major industrial disputes on record in the nation, resulting in a 18.5% hourly wage increase and..Read More

1946
LRSH Action Committee

LRSH Action Committee

The Little Red School House Action Committee joined other Greenwich Village schools in a brave try at getting some of its “anti-everything neighbors” to see the “other fellow’s point of view”.  It established a Human Relations Workshop with the aim..Read More

1946
Integration in Baseball

Integration in Baseball

INFO, the school newspaper, devotes the majority of its February 1, 1946 issue to advocating for integration in baseball. INFO editors, harnessing the power of the press, write to sports writers of their day, and excerpted responses from eight journalists,..Read More

1947
Avon Long Performs at EI

Avon Long Performs at EI

Broadway star Avon Long performs at EI as part of Black History Week celebration.  

1948
Israel Drive

Israel Drive

EI held a month-long drive to aid people in Israel. The money collected was given to the United Palestine Appeal (UPA), a member of the a member agency of the United Jewish Appeal and a major fund raising agency for..Read More

1950
EI Marches with NAACP

EI Marches with NAACP

Elisabeth Irwin students marched with a delegation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1950 to advocate for Congressional action on the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). EI..Read More

1952
Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Randolph Smith was called to testify on “Subversive Influence in the Educational Process” at hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate in September, 1952.

1953
Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Three tenth grade EI students volunteer at the Metropolitan Hospital on Welfare Island. The students were members of the Councillettes of Jewish Women, an organization composed of girls from thirteen to seventeen years of age. Their job was to “keep..Read More

1954
Frank Silvera Visits EI

Frank Silvera Visits EI

As part of E.I.’s observance of Black History Week, Tony-nominated actor Frank Silvera, spoke to students about the history of Black actors in American theatre.

1954
Tribune Forum Exchange Students

Tribune Forum Exchange Students

For many years, LREI participated in the Herald Tribune Forum, which brought students to the U.S. from all over the world for a period of twelve weeks. LREI hosted students from many countries, including Kimiko Fujii from Japan, and Wentworth..Read More

1955
W.E.B. Dubois Visits

W.E.B. Dubois Visits

Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, well-known scholar, philosopher and writer, spoke to the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades on February 14. His topic was freedom of opinion in the United States. In a short analysis of the fight for freedom of opinion..Read More

1955

Pearl Primus Visits LRSH

Pearl Primus, one of America’s greatest interpretive dancers and PhD candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University, performs at LRSH. “There is music everywhere,” she said. “Music is in the wind whistling by my ears. I hear it in the quiet..Read More

1957
EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

The date was May 17, 1957. Three years ago on that date the Supreme Court of the land added a new verse to freedom’s song. “Desegregate and state to integrate” chorused the nine men in black. And now three years..Read More

1957
10s Play About Integration

10s Play About Integration

A play by the 10s about integration was performed at an assembly in 1957, and then later at the high school. Teacher Mimi Levy transcribed phrases from class discussions of integration and turned their words into the script, which was..Read More

1957
We Need Our Park

We Need Our Park

LRSH students make an appeal to Mayor Robert F. Wagner, explaining why building a highway through Washington Square Park would be detrimental to the community.

1958
NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

Herbert Wright, NAACP Youth Secretary, speaks to the EI student council

1958

Jackie Robinson Visits EI on Behalf of NAACP

In 1958, Jackie Robinson, ambassador of the NAACP, came to LREI with Herbert Wright, Youth Leader of the NAACP, to accept a check from EI students, funds raised to support their efforts in the fight for racial justice and to..Read More

1958
EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

On Saturday, October 25, 1958, EI students traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Youth March for Integrated Schools led by A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Coretta Scott King, Harry Belafonte, Bayard Rustin.

1958
Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

In 1958, LRSH students sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India letters and drawings wishing him a happy birthday. In response, he wrote: I am glad to know that you have been learning about India in your class. India is..Read More

1958
Operation Pennsylvania

Operation Pennsylvania

EI students take a week-long trip to Pennsylvania to visit Amish farms, a steel plant, and a coal mine, among other stops, to learn about the work and lives of others. Read the trip objectives and itinerary here.

1959
Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

On November 5, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry visited students to talk about her writing, including the play A Raisin in the Sun, as part of Book Week. LREI prides itself on shrinking the distance between the schoolhouse and the “real world.”..Read More

1959
Village NAACP Organized

Village NAACP Organized

LREI Director Dr. Randolph Smith, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and Reverend Howard Moody of Judson Memorial Church, among other prominent Village leaders, are consulted in the formation of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chapter of the NAACP.

1960
Student UNICEF Drive

Student UNICEF Drive

LRSH students organize an annual drive to raise funds for UNICEF.

1960
EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

Students from EI picket Woolworths at 39th Street and Fifth Avenue as part of a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) drive.

1961
Intercultural Committee Enrollment Drive

Intercultural Committee Enrollment Drive

Responding to the call of the Education and Intercultural Committees, forty parents and teachers volunteered to work for increased intercultural registration in both schools. Beginning with countless telephone calls, their efforts progressed to visits with community leaders and prospective parents...Read More

1962

School Drive for Migrant Children

Students watched one of the most celebrated documentaries of all time, 1960’s “Harvest of Shame,” in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the plight of America’s farm workers. Students collected $486.00 to pay the expenses of representatives traveling through migrant areas,..Read More

1963

March on Washington

EI students travel to Washington D.C. to attend the March on Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism.”..Read More

1963
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

EI students volunteer at the CORE national office and fundraise. Elisabeth Irwin is the first and only high school in the Metropolitan Area to have endorsed the program of the Congress of Racial Equality with such dedication and sincerity… It..Read More

1964
Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

As part of our social studies course, the 11th grade took a 6 day trip to Pennsylvania. The three main objectives of the trip were to study coal mining conditions in the mining towns themselves and to visit farms of..Read More

1964

EI Students Participate in World’s Fair Demonstrations

Thirty EI students joined the demonstration on opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair. The students picketed the Louisiana Pavilion led by James Farmer and Bayard Rustin. Four students were arrested including Lisa Fein (Gilford), Liz Leicester, and Tom Hurwitz,..Read More

1964
Freedom Summer SNCC Voter Drive

Freedom Summer SNCC Voter Drive

Peter Cummings, who graduated from EI in 1962, was one of the twenty-five freedom workers stationed in Holly Springs, Mississippi over the summer to work on the 1964 campaign, led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), to register large numbers..Read More

1966
Watts Riots

Watts Riots

EI student Robert Rosen spends four days in Los Angeles as a participant on a study of the Watts Riots, co-sponsored by New York University and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. The story of Los Angeles and the Watts community is..Read More

1970
LREI’s First Affinity Group

LREI’s First Affinity Group

The Organization of Afro-American Students (OAAS) forms in 1970, becoming LREI’s first affinity group. The stated purposes of the OAAS were: To promote unity among the Black students in the school To promote awareness of the Black Revolution To promote..Read More

1986
LREI Marches in the GMHC AIDS Walk

LREI Marches in the GMHC AIDS Walk

LREI Marches in the annual GMHC AIDS Walk. GMHC fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.

1990
Willam Kunstler (P’94/P’96) Speaks at MLK Assembly

Willam Kunstler (P’94/P’96) Speaks at MLK Assembly

Lawyer, civil rights activist, and LREI parent William Kunstler spoke to students at the annual Martin Luther King Day assembly.

1997
LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

Lower School Principal Elaine Winter and parent Alice Krauss, along with other parents, found the LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA).

1997

Visibility/Love Makes a Family

Beginning in 1997, LREI hosted an annual traveling photography exhibition entitled “Love Makes A Family” — focused on the families gay and lesbian couples create. In 2010, the LREI community decided to curate its own exhibit, “Visibility: Our LGBTQ+ Community..Read More

2000
Little Red Radicals

Little Red Radicals

School was centered around social and political activism: demonstrating, taking stands, acting on your beliefs, making the world a better place to live in. A New York Times article in the City Section features a reunion of LREI’s class of..Read More

2001
The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

In 2001, Shoshana and Suzanne’s first grade class read a book about Ruby Bridges, a first grader and the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on..Read More

2003

LREI Marches in NYC Pride March

LREI marches in the New York City Pride March. For this annual event, LREI shares a float with the Calhoun School complete with a DJ “booth” and rainbows galore. (Photos in slideshow are from 2014)

2003
LREI Hires Director of Diversity and Community

LREI Hires Director of Diversity and Community

LREI hires Sharon Dupree as its first Director of Diversity and Community. Sandra “Chap” Chapman (also pictured here on the right) becomes Director of Equity and Community in 2007.

2004
The Community Service Roundtable

The Community Service Roundtable

Community service at LREI has been a core aspect of the school’s values, mission, and program since the school’s inception in the 1920s.  Our school’s mission statement underscores the importance of cultivating an ethic of service among all our students..Read More

2007
Students March to Fight Global Warming

Students March to Fight Global Warming

On Saturday, April 14, 2007 over 90 members of the LREI community covered themselves in blue and joined hands with thousands of others to form the human coastline around lower Manhattan called the Sea of People. Consisting of a U-shaped..Read More

2007
The Power and Price of Privilege

The Power and Price of Privilege

Tim Wise, Director of the Association for White Anti-racist Education (AWARE) came to LREI to facilitate dialogue on race and privilege in America with students, faculty, and parents. He discussed the historical foundations of white privilege and how it is..Read More

2008

First Eighth Grade Social Justice Project

One of the major themes of the eighth grade curriculum is active citizenship. In humanities classes, students work on the “Social Justice Project.” Students identify civil and human rights topics in which they are interested, and work in small groups..Read More

2011

LREI’s 90th Anniversary + Ideas Speaker Series Launch

LREI celebrated its 90th anniversary by launching the Ideas Speaker Series. The inaugural series included talks by author Siddhartha Mukherjee (P’29, ’23), activist Christy Turlington (P’22,’24), PBS education correspondent John Merrow, and author Steven Johnson.

2012

Adopt-a-Family Sandy Cleanup

On Friday, December 7, 2012, students took the ferry to Staten Island to help in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

2014
LREI Students at Drink Up with Michelle Obama

LREI Students at Drink Up with Michelle Obama

LREI students participated in Drink Up, a collaboration to encourage everyone to drink more water between the Partnership for a Healthier America – which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chairwoman Michelle Obama to make the healthy choice..Read More

2014
Student Walkout 2014

Student Walkout 2014

In December 2014, thousands of students from schools across the U.S. staged a massive walkout in solidarity with Ferguson and other communities affected by police violence. LREI high school and middle school students joined the many demonstrations that occurred in..Read More

2015
One Teacher in Ten

One Teacher in Ten

LREI hosts a panel discussion on One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better . . . and What Hasn’t. The One Teacher in Ten series has served as an invaluable source..Read More

2016
New York Magazine Features LREI Protesters

New York Magazine Features LREI Protesters

LREI students featured in New York Magazine’s annual “Reasons to Love New York ” 12th edition, 2016: No. 2 | Because Even Our Protesters Are Precocious. Read the full article here.

2016

Gloria Steinem Visits Feminism Class

Gloria Steinem, feminist journalist and social political activist, visited Ileana Jiménez’ Feminism class.

2016

The Laramie Project + Moisés Kaufman Lecture

LREI’s production of The Laramie Project premiered during election week of November 2016 – a fractious and memorable moment in political history, when hate speech was again on the rise. The students who participated in the play hosted an audience talkback..Read More

2016
LREI Students Protest Constitution Pipeline

LREI Students Protest Constitution Pipeline

LREI students travel to Albany to protest the Constitution Pipeline.

2017
LREI at Women’s March

LREI at Women’s March

LREI students and teachers participated in the Women’s March, a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It was prompted by the fact that several of Trump’s statements were considered by many..Read More

2017

Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Assembly

LREI’s first Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Assembly

2017
Facing Whiteness

Facing Whiteness

Filmmaker and educator Whitney Dow spoke at LREI as part of the 2017 ideas Speaker Series. His project “Facing Whiteness” examines how Americans who identify as “white,” or “partially white,” process their ethnicity, and pair it with secondary quantitative data..Read More

2017
Politics in the Schoolhouse

Politics in the Schoolhouse

LREI Director Phil Kassen publishes “Politics in the Schoolhouse,” an article about the importance of discussing politics in the classroom. We do not teach about politics for politics’ sake. We do not teach through conflict for conflict’s sake. We do..Read More

2018

National School Walkout Against Gun Violence

Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S., including LREI students from all three divisions. The younger students stood in with signs outside of the Sixth Avenue building while high school students joined crowds of protesters in Washington Square Park...Read More

2018
All-School Read of I AM JAZZ

All-School Read of I AM JAZZ

In 2018, LREI participated in the first annual all-school read of the book I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings. This book, as well as several other books on the topics of gender and identity, have played an important role in..Read More

2018
Fourth Grade Play

Fourth Grade Play

Each year, the fourth grade writes and performs a play centered around their social studies curriculum, which is typically focused on contemporary immigration, historical immigration, civil rights, current events, and social justice. These topics are never fully predetermined – students’..Read More

2018
Heads of Schools Speak Out Against Gun Violence

Heads of Schools Speak Out Against Gun Violence

In February 2018, Heads of independent schools in the New York metropolitan area write an open letter in The New York Times speaking out against gun violence following shooting at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that..Read More

2018
ideas Speaker Series with TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky

ideas Speaker Series with TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky

ideas Speaker Series and Sustainable LREI Present: Eliminating the idea of waste and changing the way people look at garbage, with Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle.

2019
Earth Day Beach Cleanup

Earth Day Beach Cleanup

Sustainable LREI sponsors an annual beach cleanup at Rockaway Beach. In 2018, they collected over 200 lbs of trash.

2019
The Commons Project

The Commons Project

The Commons Project was initiated as a framework for approaching service learning, and civic and community engagement. The school  choose to interpret the idea of the “commons” broadly in examining our role as citizens of our school community and of the larger world as..Read More

2019

Silent March for Climate Change

The Fours didn’t want to be left out of the climate change movement. They rallied in the hallways of Sixth Avenue, visiting classrooms and proudly displaying signs to build awareness through their own “Silent March for Climate Change”.

2019
STEM in South Africa

STEM in South Africa

Ellana Lawrence ’18 travels to South Africa with a group that seeks to train and inspire a new generation of ethically minded STEM workers.

2019
Service Learning in the Deepest Sense – 11th Grade Trip

Service Learning in the Deepest Sense – 11th Grade Trip

One practice that is grounded in our progressive principles is the field trip, an approach to learning that was pioneered at LREI. Through the trip, we seek to take learning out into the world and to then bring the world..Read More

2020
The Democracy  Project

The Democracy Project

LREI launches a collective, school-wide effort called The Democracy Project to uphold this country’s core democratic values. The Democracy Project is a student-led initiative to help the LREI student community become more knowledgeable on and involved in the democratic process,..Read More

2020

The rights of those who differ from ourselves

Fourteen students from the high school ‘Exile and Immigration’ class came together in conversation with four of New Sanctuary Coalition’s community members – three friends recently released from detention and a family member. This series, “Finding Light: Sharing Experiences of..Read More

2021
Angela Davis ’61 Speaks at Senior Banquet

Angela Davis ’61 Speaks at Senior Banquet

EI alumna Angela Davis ’61 spoke to the 2021 graduating class at their senior banquet via zoom.

2021

100 Acts of Service

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of LREI, we are cataloging 100 Acts of Service. Click here to see the photos. Each of these opportunities will incorporate a service-learning component. The service-learning component frames and contextualizes the service opportunity through..Read More

2021
Vision Zero

Vision Zero

Zane Walker ‘22, co-leader of the Vision Zero Youth Council, a student-led group that works with local schools, organizations, and elected officials in the fight for street safety, publishes an Op-Ed in The Daily News about the urgent need to..Read More

2021
Senior Project + Service Learning

Senior Project + Service Learning

Beginning spring 2022, all Senior Projects will be required to include a service component. The Senior Project is the culmination of each student’s LREI career. The Senior Project takes the values and academics of LREI and allows students to explore these..Read More

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