History Between These Folds

History Between These Folds is a collection of essays written by 11th graders at George Washington Carver High School. The narratives take many forms to chronicle family, neighborhood, identity, and New Orleans, and reconfigure how we think about ourselves in relationship to broader sweeps of history.

About the Book


"We are rare and we are powerful."
–Student Editorial Board

"If every American book published in 2017 were written by eleventh graders in New Orleans, the world would be more loving."
–Kiese Laymon

"Where I come from will not define the person I am, but will help shape me into what I want to be."
–From "I am From, Who I Am" by Octavia Gordon



In the 2016-2017 school year, 100 11th graders in Eric Parrie's US History class at Carver High School in the 9th Ward collaborated with Big Class and acclaimed writer Kiese Laymon to write a book of their own personal histories. The resulting book, History Between These Folds, collects their work about family, neighborhood, identity, and New Orleans–reconfiguring how we think about ourselves in relationship to broader sweeps of history. 

On May 23rd, 2017, we marked the release of History Between These Folds with a publication party at Cafe Istanbul. Families, friends, and community members came together in support of New Orleanian youth and their writing. 

On December 12th, 2017, we rejoined the book's authors and Kiese Laymon at G.W. Carver High School for a special reading and conversation. Four authors—Ashley, Octavia, Paris, and Tiarra—read their pieces from History Between These Folds and then sat down to discuss the book, New Orleans, and the future with Laymon and the audience. 

"The thing I'm the most proud of is writing this book, because it not only was published, but it expressed our feelings that we don't get to tell everyday."

We closed the evening with a book signing and celebration with friends, family, educators, and community members.

Listen to the full reading and conversation to support this powerful book and the youth behind it—because, as History Between These Folds author Tiarra said, "everybody has a voice." 


Carver Students Publish Book to Document Life in New Orleans (Louisiana Weekly)

Big Class Gives Students a Voice Through New Book (National Association of Black Journalists)

Ninth Ward High School Students Publish Book About Life in NOLA (NOLA Defender)

Free the Memory (Oxford American)

Voices of Educators: Eric Parrie (WWNO)


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