LET THE CHILDREN MARCH by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

This is a very different 4th of July celebration.  Rather than picnics and  fireworks, amid thousands of protests against police brutality and a pandemic that has disproportionately ravaged communities of color, many people are spending Fourth of July drawing attention to what they say is a hypocritical celebration of freedom. The Independence Day holiday “doesn’t really mean anything when Black people weren’t free on July 4th and those same liberties weren’t afforded to us,” said Kerrigan Williams, co-founder of Freedom Fighters D.C., who has been co-organizing marches in the city for at least three weeks.

“We’re still marching for the same things.”

The Birmingham Children’s March is an important historical event in our country and timely for context and understanding of the current marches.  There are several books that are wonderful additions to your anti-racist bookshelf. Let the Children March tops my recommended list; it is a stunningly illustrated, and highly readable historical account.  I especially appreciate the relevance for today’s young readers as they think about their roles in the on-going struggle for justice.  In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham after leading a non-violent protest without a permit.  He and other protesters were responding to Governor George Wallace calling for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation  forever.”   Dr. King hoped to raise an army of peaceful protesters to fight for freedom; he said the time had come to march.  Many parents were hesitant to march; they knew they would lose their jobs if they participated and felt the responsibility to be able to support and feed their families. Amazingly, children began to speak and offer to be Dr. King’s army.  Though Dr. King didn’t want to have children in harm’s way, he respected them–and the children did march.  Thousands of children took part in the marches, bravely singing freedom songs, despite being sprayed with fire hoses, pushed to the ground, and being jailed.  The power of the children’s march cannot be over-estimated; it led to important new legislation and changes in people’s perceptions.  So much to read and discuss in this award-winning book. . . I could go on and on–and probably was a bit wordy in this blog, but it is an important event and story, crucial for us and our children to share and discuss.

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