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Racism is still with us.
But it is up to us to prepare our children
for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.
Is reading Black history important? Should we consider ourselves 'colour-blind'? Does separating black history from history, in general, perpetuate racism?
Those are all worthy discussions that society should be hosting.
In response, I put forth the adage that history is written by the conquerors; most history we read is written by those who hold the power in society. In reading Black history - or any history written by the oppressed- we see glimpses of the world through the lens of the the author. We can see the humanity of of someone who sees the world differently and recognize that they too have parents, children, needs, and emotions - we are all in this human existence together.
Here are two books I'm reading this year for Black History Month.
Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks
A memoir of the famous Rosa Parks, the unassuming spark that set off the Bus Boycott in Montgomery Alabama December 1955-December1956. This short book is a safe read for younger children; Rosa retells her story very simply, in her words. Although short, and at a low reading level, it is written in a dry, dispassionate way that doesn't involve the reader's heart in overwhelming ways. It is a fantastic introduction to the civil-rights movement of Alabama, and the beginnings of Dr. King's involvement. It explains civil rights clearly without assuming that the reader already understands. This would make a great book to use to create a history timeline!
Warriors Don't Cry
by Melba Pattillo Beals
This memoir by Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High in Little Rock Arkansas, is a powerful, moving, and memorable telling of her personal experience.
Written decades after her experience, relying heavily on newspaper clippings she saved and her own diaries, Beals relives her experiences in harrowing detail, while carefully dodging finger pointing. She carries her reader with her into her life, her mind, her emotions, and her family so we can experience a small part of her life.
Warriors Don't Cry is a must read for civil rights education. It displays the disparities with genuine respect and exhibit's the love, determination, and faith of a family that truly believes in education, respect, and equality.
This particular version is unabridged and, while it is sparing of violent details does not avoid some of the more difficult moments she experienced. There is a young readers, abridged version with less of the violence shown, although it does still include her attempted rape in one 2 page scene.
“Until I am welcomed everywhere as an equal simply because I am human, I remain a warrior on a battlefield that I must not leave. I continue to be a warrior who does not cry but who instead takes action. If one person is denied equality, we are all denied equality.”
Melba Pattillo Beals