Third-grader Alex Alphonse shares his reflection on the virtual-learning experience. (Courtesy photo)

Picture this: a virtual showcase of the healing-based art from a selection of Memphis- area students.

Stand for Children Tennessee will host just such a showcase for “This is 2020: Meaningful Stories, Artful Healing” on Thursday (September 24) at 6 p.m. via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Elementary, middle and high school students in Memphis and Shelby County submitted more than 30 works of art to express their views on the global pandemic and racial injustice issues. The showcase will feature the finalists from each grade level. Showcase registration is online at

Lauren Wylyle, a sixth-grade student, brings together two faces now seared into the ongoing push for police reform. (Courtesy photo)

The concept for “This is 2020” evolved during a Stand member meeting as participants were discussing the birthday of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers earlier this year and whose death, along with those of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others, sparked local and national protests against police brutality.

A discussion about ways to get students involved led to the idea to give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and stories as a way to start the healing process.

“Creative expression can be a beneficial way for us to process and respond to traumatic experiences during this time of uncertainty,” said Dr. Crystal Harris, Stand member and creator of “This is 2020.

“With this call for submissions, we wanted to open up a space for young people to share personal stories and experiences in an environment that encourages learning rather than critique. With this showcase, each person becomes the communal teacher and learner as they and we artfully express personal thoughts, fears, hopes, and frustrations about brutal times and memories regarding a virus, race, policing, policies, myths, and/or systems.”

Originally from Detroit, Harris, who teaches college literature and writing classes and is also an entrepreneur, became involved with Stand through her work with the education outreach arm of Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (MICAH). Her experiences during Stand’s fellowship program, a three-week intensive course in education advocacy, provided her with more background about Memphis’ education history, the policies involved, past and present, and how to effect change moving forward.

Amelia Halter, who is in the sixth grade, shares her take on the coronavirus. (Courtesy photo)

Harris envisioned “This is 2020” as a process by which students could embrace and be inspired by the genuine, passionate energy and dedication of the adults in the Stand community rather than be negatively influenced by the divisive energy often prevalent in society today.

“We received well over the number of submissions that I imagined for a first try. The students have produced everything from poetry and essays to songs and graphic design. I’m so proud of each one of them for creating and being a part of the cultural moment,” she said.

“Many of the entries, beyond revealing raw talent in a particular field, are incredibly perceptive. I’m also proud of them for being brave enough to share their work with others.”

All “This is 2020” showcase finalists will receive a Stand for Children-branded Black Lives Matter T-shirt and will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card.