Dear Iola, Love South LA: A Film Festival

February 08, 2021

Design by Emmely Caceres.

Saturday, February 20th • 3-5 PM (Pacific Time)

8 Experimental Short Films, One Fabulous Festival

Just in time for Black History Month, Dear Iola, Love South L.A. is a film festival produced by South L.A. teens, based on their journey with Iola Leroy by Frances E. W. Harper, one of the most influential African American woman activists of her period. Part of LitLabs, a literature-based public humanities project in South L.A., Dear Iola brings audiences powerful and poignant 21st- translations of Harper's 19th-century anti-racist book.

Sharing stories about precious South L.A. hubs under a pandemic, remembering an iconic skating rink as it faces permanent closure, speaking out against displacement and gentrification, exploring why #BLM is our fight-these are just some subjects students have taken on in eight short documentary films produced in the middle of a lock-down.  



This production culminates Dear Iola, Love South L.A., this year's  LitLab-an annual immersive study of the long-form 19th-century novel directed by Jacqueline Barrios for Foshay Learning Center seniors of the University of Southern California’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program in their AP English classroom. This year's LitLab is a recipient of UCLA's Excellence in Pedagogy & Innovative Classrooms (EPIC) Teaching Innovation Grant, linking UCLA's English Department, the Urban Humanities Initiative (UHI), and long-time partner, Dickens Project, to the work. LitLabs bring intensives, guest lectures, artist visits, and design partners in creating an interdisciplinary, urban-based learning public humanities project interested in imagining what it means to be a 21st century South LA urban teen reader of a 19th-century novel.  

For more details about our journey, collaborators and experiences studying and creating with Iola Leroy, please visit