Reach And Teach congratulates our partner in peacemaking Tilbury House for their latest award!Riperia's River by author Michael Caduto, and illustrated by Olga Pastuchiv has been selected as a "Green Earth Book Award" Honor Book in the Picture Book Category by the Newton Marasco Foundation who's mission is "Inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards." Congratulations Michael and Olga!
The Newton Marasco Foundatio, which created and manages the award, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Through youth designed and driven programs, we teach the value and ethics of environmental stewardship and sustainability. They educate and partner with schools, corporations, and communities to reach our nation's children through environmental science, the arts and literature.
NMF, in partnership with Salisbury University, created the Green Earth Book Award to promote books that inspire children to grow a deeper appreciation, respect, and responsibility for their natural environment. This is an annual award for books that best raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world and the responsibility that we have to protect it.
What Reach And Teach Says about the Book:
If only there had been a Riparia to tell kids like me how we could have made a difference in our own towns! This is an incredible story of children discovering that the water they loved to frolic in has become terribly polluted. Soon they learn about habitats, water restoration, and the power they have to make a difference. Empowering and delightful and realistic, this is a great book.
To learn more about Riparia's River and order a copy, click here.
When we see turmoil happening somewhere in our world, we often feel helpless, thinking that what we might have to offer couldn't make any real difference. But what if something you were passionate about doing, loved doing, could help make the world a more peaceful place? Maybe you knit. Maybe you golf (yes Steve, I mean you). Maybe you do capoeira. Maybe you're an artist. Maybe you are an avid skateboarder AND an artist... When the Arab Spring got its start in Tunisia with a successful nonviolent revolution, you can imagine the kinds of things that the U.S. government might have thought about sending there to help the people once the government had toppled. Construction materials and equipment, diplomats, doctors and nurses, experts in civil affairs... but can you imagine someone in our government thinking "We should send some skateboarders!"
Our friends, The Bedouins, were invited to Tunisia to help bring people together and build bridges, through the love of skateboarding and art. They went and their trip was an incredible success. Click here to read about it in the Guardian.
Click here to help The Bedouins get their film about their time in Tunisia out into the world (they need a few bucks).
We had members of The Bedouins in our San Mateo shop last year for a fundraiser and art exhibit. We also showed portions of two films they had created. The first was called Smile and it covered Nathan Gray's (Bedouin founder) time teaching street kids how to skateboard in India. The second, Sour, chronicles The Bedouins bringing together Jordanian and Israeli skateboarders.
During their time in our shop we learned then about The Bedouins' upcoming trip to Tunisia. Now they are trying to raise enough money through a Kickstarter campaign to do final edits on the DVD of that experience and get the DVDs out into the world.
So now I return to the idea from which I started writing this news. Maybe you're passionate about helping spread the word about the power of nonviolence and unusual ways of building bridges between people. If you are, how about helping our friends get this DVD produced and out in the world? Click here to visit their Kickstarter campaign and consider making a donation.
Check out these clips from Smile and Sour to see the kind of work these amazing people do!
Reach And Teach 178 South Blvd. San Mateo, CA 94402 Contact Craig Wiesner at 888-PEACE40 For Immediate Release
San Mateo's First Green Filling Station Opens Bring Your Own Container for Earth-Friendly Soap and Detergent
SAN MATEO, CA - March 6, 2012 - Reach And Teach, which owns a San Mateo shop dedicated to peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living, launched a new addition to their South Blvd. store on Tuesday March 6th. Customers are now able to bring in their own containers and fill up on organic hand soap, earth-friendly dish soap, and biodegradable laundry detergent.
"Rather than tossing container after container into the recycle bin, or worse yet, into the landfill, people can stop by our shop and refill their empties, using them over and over again! Plus, they'll be filling up on soaps and detergents that are earth-friendly and produced right here in the Bay Area." said Craig Wiesner, co-founder of Reach And Teach. "People will also be pleasantly surprised at the reasonable prices we're able to offer on these high-quality green products."
Reach And Teach is partnering with Green11, a Noe-Valley San Francisco based company that is one of the pioneers in making earth-friendly products available in bulk. "We were walking by the Green11 shop and wandered in, checked out the products, and were hooked." said Derrick Kikuchi, Reach And Teach co-founder. "We'd been thinking about new ways to make products like theirs available to our customers in San Mateo and were thrilled that instead of having to re-invent the wheel we could bring in experts who had been doing this for years."
Customers at the Reach And Teach shop, located in the Dove & Olive Works Building at 178 South Blvd. in San Mateo, have expressed great excitement about this new addition. "I've been waiting for something like this for 20 years!" exclaimed one recent visitor.
The "Filling Station" was installed on Tuesday March 6th and immediately ready for business. Members of the press are invited to the shop to check it out. Contact Craig Wiesner for specifics.
Reach And Teach created two satirical versions of stories about the first San Mateo Filling Station and had a contest on Facebook to choose the best one (see below for the first version which won the competition).
About Reach And Teach:
Reach And Teach transforms the world through teachable moments with books, music, toys, gifts, fair-trade crafts, and other products that promote peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living. The company was founded in 2004 and opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in San Mateo in 2010.
The Filling Station [ref: Reach and Teach News Service, March 6, 2062]
Most of the old-timers remember the day they opened the very first filling station in San Mateo. It was quite a thing way back then, not something anyone ever expected to happen outside of big cities like San Francisco.
There usually wasn't much happening on old South Boulevard in San Mateo... one or two people getting their hair done in one shop while their pets got their fur coiffed in the other, a few kids getting piano lessons across the street, while their parents got the lawn mower repaired. Then there was that odd little shop that sold books, toys and olive oil, kind of a strange combination but they also had some wonderful chocolate that I'd found it hard to resist any time I wandered by. This was a typical lazy Tuesday on that quiet little strip between B Street on 16th Avenue and Palm Blvd. by 17th... on that little tiny spec of a street some practical joker had named South Boulevard just to mess with people's minds. "South WHAT Boulevard" people would ask whenever you told them your address, if you happened to live or work there.
But I digress. That morning there was quite the commotion. People were lined up past the GLOW Salon and the Chinese restaurant all the way down to the union hall. "What the heck is going on?" I asked. "They're opening a filling station!" my old chess buddy Phil answered. "A filling station, here in San Mateo?" I was shocked. I could have started singing "Everything's up to date in San Mateo, they've gone about as far as they could go..." but only a few people would have gotten the joke.
Soon the two guys who run the shop opened up the door and shouted "The filling station is NOW OFFICIALLY OPEN!" There was a huge cheer and people headed in. Some of them had big old laundry detergent bottles, others had little tiny hand soap pumps. "So what is this, recycling?" I asked Phil. "Nah. Better than that! You bring in your empties and fill them up right here. Keep on using them over and over and over again. Waste not - want not, that's what my mother always said."
I watched as people walked up to the filling station, picked their product, stuck their bottles and jugs under spigots, and started pouring. It was all "eco-friendly" stuff, organic, biodegradable, green. As soon as I saw that I figured filling up those bottles was going to cost a lot of "green!" My wife had bought a little bottle of organic hand soap once and it cost her nine bucks.
"That'll be three dollars." the clerk told one customer as she handed him her bottle of hand soap. Three dollars?!?! I couldn't believe it. "Hey, how can you do that for three dollars?" I asked. The guy admitted "We're giving folks a discount for the first day. It will be $3.45 cents next time." That still seemed like a good price. "We get the stuff in bulk and you know most of it is water. Why pay to ship all that water all over the country, or even worse, from other countries? We save even more money by eliminating all that plastic packaging."
It all sounded good to me. San Mateo really had come a long way! First we got two great farmer's markets, then everyone got composting and recycling bins, and now we had our very first filling station. And for once we beat Palo Alto and Burlingame to the punch!
I headed home to see what kinds of bottles and jugs I could bring over to the filling station the next time I needed a chocolate fix. Yep, there it was, that $9 bottle my wife had bought. Wouldn't she have a good laugh when I filled it back up for only $3.45!
Nowadays I guess our kids couldn't imagine the way we used to throw away all those old bottles and jugs, or even the concept that we'd send plastic, glass, and paper all the way to China to have it turned into products that they'd ship all the way back and sell to us! Good thing we got that first filling station in the year 2012. Everything really was finally up to date in San Mateo!
UPDATE: On March 6th, 2012, Reach And Teach added a Green 11 Filling Station to its shop at 178 South Blvd. (the Dove & Olive Works Building) in San Mateo, California. You're invited to stop on by and see history in the making. BYOC (Bring Your Own Container).
Reach And Teach Favorite Tilbury House Books in the News
It always feels great when treasures we've added to our shop get extra-special recognition out in the world. We tell people that every product in our shop has a story behind it, a personal connection for why we chose it and why we recommend it. Adding other people's stories to our own builds up the good karma even further.
So here is news from our friends at Tilbury House about a few of their wonderful books (which we happily carry in our shop so click away and order them). We're blending in a little of our "Reach And Teach says:" comments with the news as written by the newsletter team at Tilbury House.
Reach And Teach says: If only there had been a Riparia to tell kids like me how we could have made a difference in our own towns! This is an incredible story of children discovering that the water they loved to frolic in has become terribly polluted. Soon they learn about habitats, water restoration, and the power they have to make a difference. Empowering and delightful and realistic, this is a great book.
Moon Watchers, by Reza Jalali, illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien, was picked for "Perfect Picture Book Friday" at the Of Thoughts and Words blog of Saba Taylor. An educator and a Muslim, her comments about the book are indeed interesting, informative, and fun. Here's part of her review, but you'll have to go to the blog to find out more about her own childhood and fasting....
"The story touches on something EVERY child goes through, wanting to partake in family traditions and rituals. It doesn't matter whether its Ramadan, Christmas, Deepavali, or Hanukah, children want to be a part of the festivities. Another universal theme of the book is sibling rivalry. What child has NOT had to deal with that! I have two younger sisters and two older brothers!! :D I love that the story ends with Ali, Shirin's older brother being nice to her and that she keeps his secret. The story begins with sighting the moon, which is very important to Muslims. The new moon signals the beginning and end of the month. I love that the moon remains a part of the story. The illustrations beautifully capture the feel and warmth of the family and their traditions. From their prayer rugs, traditional dishes and religious artifacts and my favorite, the picture of the 'hundreds of tiny silvery pieces.' There aren't hundreds of pieces but the illustration is beautiful! The story also highlights the many aspects of Ramadan, fasting and doing good deeds, something I feel is lacking in many religious holidays where consumerism is pushed rather than the more spiritual aspect of the holiday like being and doing good for others, family and community. Shirin learns that doing good things for others is just as important and apart of Ramadan as is the fasting."
Reach And Teach says: What a beautiful and engaging book! Life in a Muslim home during Ramadan... Gee, it looks just like life in a lot of different people's homes as they celebrate special holidays. Of course some things are new and different... exactly how a creator of diversity might have created us. Wonderful.
Sheila Says We're Weird received a nice mention from the Midwest Book Review: "Sheila Says We're Weird is an illustrated children's book that teaches sound environmental practices for families while it entertains. Sheila is a neighbor girl who observes many strange "green" practices in her best friend's family. Shopping at the farmer's market for local foods, composting, using a hand lawn mower, heating with a wood stove instead of a furnace, riding bikes and walking instead of driving, drying laundry on the line instead of the dryer, making sun tea-all of these activities seem weird to Sheila. Yet Sheila seems to enjoy participating in many of these activities with the family very much. Hmmmm, could there be a lesson here? For painless and preach-free environmental education, told especially well with spunky, colorful illustrations, read Sheila Says We're Weird to children age six and up."
Reach And Teach says: I would definitely have thought the family next door was weird if they did the things that Sheila's family does all the time. But eventually, I too would have loved being part of it all. This is a story about a girl who comes to discover the fun of sustainable living by hanging out with her weird neighbors. A terrific way to introduce kids and adults to all the small and large things we can do to improve our lives while helping the planet. Great book!
And, as our friends at Tilbury House say at the end of their newsletter, Please remember to support your local independent bookstore. That's US! And... we have these books available. Click the links to learn more and buy them.
My name is Ivy. That's my first name. My family name is Bly. I'm eleven years old, and I'm homeless. My mother died when I was young, and I'm lucky to have my dad. We're both homeless. We got evicted from our place last November. Mostly, we sleep in the Presidio, a park on the west side of San Francisco. I miss our home. I miss my friends. I miss opening the refrigerator and sleeping in a bed and looking out the window at the rain (cold and rain make a miserable situation even worse). There are too many things to name that I miss. Everyday is a new set of problems. Getting to school is one of them. Most of the time, it's too hard to wash up in the sink at a shelter or find clean clothes or do my homework. If I miss too many days of school, I don't know what my homework is. Since we've been homeless, I've fallen way behind. My dad takes me to the library and makes sure I read everyday. But it's not the same. On days when I do show up at school, I can't tell my friends or teacher that I'm homeless. I'm too embarrassed. A couple of them sense that something is wrong. But they wouldn't ask me. And what could I tell them? I did confide in my best friend, Leon. His family came from Jamaica, and things are sometimes rough at his house. That's why I could talk to him about my situation. Most of the time, I worry and wonder when my dad will find a job again and when we'll live in our own home.
The U.S. Congress has a new bill that I hope will pass. It's HR 32, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which makes it a lot easier for homeless kids and their families to receive help and services. You can help, too. If you're a grownup, contact your Congressional representative and tell them you'd like them to support HR 32. If you're too young to vote, talk to the adults in your life about HR 32. Help make sure homeless kids get what they need.
Ivy is the heroine of Summer Brenner's youth novel, Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, recently published by Reach And Teach/PM Press. It's the intimate portrait of a homeless child, a story of her trials and tribulations interlaced with humor and wisdom and colorful characters. All kids need to care about homelessness. Ivy's story creates a bridge between those who have and those who don't.
What does "fair trade" mean? How does Reach And Teach select the products we sell? Can you be a "consumer" and still be a good citizen of the planet? We answer these and other questions about life, the universe, and everything on the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center's Other Voices TV show.
Reach And Teach is thrilled to have been invited to participate in several Bay Area (California) gatherings designed to help create more inclusive environments in schools. Our Family Coalition has been working for many years to make ALL schools welcoming places for ALL children, with a particular focus on children in GLBTQ-led homes. Click here to check out Our Family Coalition's web site.
Through these events, we've learned about the Welcoming Schools program, which is working to help make schools across the United States more welcoming of all children. Here's how they describe themselves on their web site:
Welcoming Schools is an LGBT-inclusive approach to addressing family diversity, gender stereotyping and bullying and name-calling in K-5 learning environments. Welcoming Schools provides administrators, educators and parents/guardians with the resources necessary to create learning environments in which all learners are welcomed and respected.
The Welcoming Schools Guide offers tools, lessons and resources on embracing family diversity, avoiding gender stereotyping and ending bullying and name-calling. The primer version of the Guide, An Introduction to Welcoming Schools, is a 93 page resource available for download in its entirety.
Welcoming Schools has been piloted and evaluated in three school districts in Calif., Mass. and Minn. With the completion of the pilots, the project will move toward broader distribution of the Welcoming Schools Guide.
Initiated by a group of parents and educators to meet the needs of students whose family structures are not well represented or included in school environments, Welcoming Schools is also a response to educators who have asked for tools to address bias-based name-calling and bullying. Additionally, it offers a wide range of resources for school administrators and educators to support students who don’t conform to gender norms.
We here at Reach And Teach have checked out the curriculum and the other resources Welcoming Schools has to offer and feel they are terrific. While we've had a great set of resources for gender equality / GLBTQ inclusion in our shop, Welcoming Schools introduced us to a lot more resources we didn't know about. We're starting to gather them under our one virtual and brick-and-mortar roof so that parents, teachers, and others working with children and youth can easily order these resources (without having to go to you-know-where....).
These are the products we've gathered so far. BUT, the resources are even MORE useful if used in coordination with the Welcoming Schools program. So go to their web site and learn more!
And... the team at Welcoming Schools has a copy of our newly published Operation Marriage and we're hoping that it will soon be added to their list of recommended resources.
Teaching Tolerance magazine is one of the best resources we know of for teachers and others who work with children. The magazine is free to educators and includes incredibly well written articles and a wealth or resources.
This issue focuses on dating abuse and the many ways teachers can help students avoid - or get out of - destructive relationships. Also, look for articles on creating healthy sports rivalries, encouraging young activists and dispelling stereotypes about low-income students.
Click here to visit the Teaching Tolerance web site to read the issue online.
Reach And Teach is proud to say that several of the products we've created have been recommended by Teaching Tolerance. We're also pleased to note that many of their other recommendations can be found in our shop in San Mateo or on our web site. In the coming weeks, we'll be stocking up on more of their recommendations from the last few issues of the magazine. We'd like to be your one-stop-shop for Teaching Tolerance recommendations.
Below are some of the products we already have available.
What better way to launch Black History Month than to celebrate the Tuskegee Airmen! With a new movie arriving in theaters right now about these amazing airmen the team here at Reach And Teach was thrilled to discover that the White House hosted a screening with some of the airmen this week.
Reach And Teach created a free curriculum you can use to teach about the Tuskegee Airmen. Click here to check out that curriculum.
Claudette Colvin "I felt like Sojourner Truth had a hand on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman on the other!" That's how Claudette Colvin describes the feeling she had when the police were demanding she vacate her seat on the bus and move to where the other "coloreds" were seated. She refused and was dragged off that bus and thrown in jail. Unlike Rosa Parks, who famously refused to move to the back of the bus and is credited with ending segregation in public transportation, Claudette was scorned by her community for refusing to obey the police. But it was her action, before Rosa famously sat, that resulted in a landmark court case that made bus segregation illegal in America. Click here to check out a wonderful book by Phillip Hoose on Claudette Colvin and her courageous act of defiance.
Claudette Colvin is not a name that immediately comes to mind for most people when one thinks about the civil rights movement. With Martin Luther King's birthday in January and with February being Black History Month, we wanted to lift up a few names and faces that don't necessarily get the recognition they should. In this article we'll lift up some amazing people who have worked for social, racial, gender, economic, and geo-political justice: Bidi Mason, Bayard Rustin, Viola Desmond, Kim and Reggie Harris, Mildred Loving, Martin Luther King, and Mary Edith Abu-Saba. And, we'll also let you know about some great resources for learning more, celebrating, and singing!
Bridget (Biddy) Mason
Biddy was born in 1815 and given as a "wedding present" to Robert Smith and his new bride. Though he and his wife became Mormon, and the church urged them to free their slaves, they refused to do so. In 1856, Smith was trying to move his family and slaves and Biddy escaped, ending up in Los Angeles. Though Smith caught up with her, a local posse stopped him and Biddy went to court to sue for her freedom. California was a free state and the court eventually granted Biddy and other slaves who were with her their freedom
She worked as a midwife and nurse, saved enough to buy her own home, and became quite wealthy, sharing her wealth and her time with the poor and imprisoned. She was beloved by her community and became an honoree in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. February 16th is Biddy Mason day!
One of our favorite YA (Young Adult) books is The Call to Shakabaz, an adventure novel about the creative use of nonviolence to overcome a tyrant. One of the characters in that book is a parrot named Bayard Rustin. An odd name for a parrot, until you understand that the real Bayard Rustin was a close and trusted adviser to Martin Luther King. He also happened to be gay (Mr. Rustin, not the parrot).
Rustin, raised by Quakers, was a committed pacifist and spent his adult life working for justice for many different groups of people including laborers, Japanese-Americans being interned, war-resisters, people of color, and homosexuals. Rustin died in 1987 from a perforated appendix. The New York Times included this in his obituary: "Looking back at his career, Mr. Rustin, a Quaker, once wrote: 'The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.'"
As you listen to Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech this year, imagine a little parrot sitting on his shoulder who championed nonviolence as the best means to achieve freedom. Bayard Rustin was no parrot, though, he was a lion of a man! Because Rustin was gay, many of King's other colleagues insisted that Rustin stay out of the limelight and most importantly, keep his sexual orientation to himself. We were blessed recently to have a woman stop by our shop, see that we had a civil rights focus, and then say to us "I'll bet I can say a name and you won't know who it is." We took the challenge. She said "Bayard Rustin!" We told her we knew all about Rustin, showed her some of the books, and then she really surprised us by saying that she had spent time in jail with Rustin. She was over 80 years old but as feisty as ever as she shared her jailhouse stories with us. (Our friend Sydney Brown also, it turns out, knew Rustin. Small world.) If you'd like to know more about the way Bayard approached the world, check out this incredible book, Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin.
Like Claudette Colvin, Viola Desmond did her own sitting for social justice. She was also arrested for her action, scorned by her community, but sadly, her case didn't prevail in her homeland of Nova Scotia. She went to a segregated movie theater and insisted on sitting in the whites-only section on the ground floor, instead of the blacks-only balcony. She was arrested, charged, and convicted of...
Yep, seats in the white section cost a penny more in taxes and although she was willing to pay for a seat in the white section, the theater refused to sell her one. So, sitting in the white section deprived the government of one penny in taxes, a crime for which Desmond was convicted. In 2010 she was granted a posthumous pardon.
Kim and Reggie Harris
We got a call one day from Alan Edwards of Appleseed Recordings (Pete Seeger's label) saying "Hey! You guys ought to have some of our records in your store!" He was right. Through that connection we fell in love with Kim and Reggie Harris and their incredible music. Here's how they're described at Appleseed: "Kim and Reggie Harris will never be confused with the legions of navel-gazing singer-songwriters who drift into the category of "contemporary folk." As socially conscious acoustic musicians, the Harrises have been "walking the talk" for over 30 years, performing modern and historical songs that explore societal ills and proffer positive social messages. Whether entrancing festival crowds with their own material or dramatizing the Underground Railroad songs, the duo carry on the folk tradition of preserving important songs from the past and adding meaningful new compositions that reflect the world around them."
As shown in our CIVIO card game, in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that banning interracial marriage was unconstitutional. The Lovings had gotten married in the District of Columbia where it was legal, and then went back to their home in Virginia. There, they were arrested and prosecuted, with the trial judge ruling that "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." The Supreme Court, however, eventually disagreed. You can read a script based on the arguments in this case by clicking here.
The Lovings were not very public people but just before her death in 2007, Mildred spoke about the idea of banning gay marriage, a hot topic in the United States even as Loving v Virginia reached its 40th anniversary. She said "I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
Marriage Equality is a big item on the Reach And Teach agenda. We recently published a children's picture book called Operation Marriage, written by Cynthia Chin-Lee and illustrated by Lea Lyon. We're hoping it will be the 21st Century sequel to Heather Has Two Mommies.
BIG NEWS!!!! A new documentary about Midlred and Richard Loving will premier on HBO in February. Click here to check out information about the film.
Wherever There's A Fight
Wherever There's a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. The book tells the stories of the brave individuals who have stood up for their rights in the face of social hostility, physical violence, economic hardship, and political stonewalling.
It connects the experiences of early Chinese immigrants subjected to discriminatory laws to those of professionals who challenged McCarthyism and those of people who have fought to gain equal rights in California schools: people of color, people with disabilities, and people standing up for their religious freedom. The authors bring a special focus to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans, focusing on the infamous Korematsu case, which was foreshadowed by a century of civil liberties violations and reverberates in more recent times-regrettably, even today in the Patriot Act. And they follow the ongoing struggles for workers' rights and same-sex marriage.
State and federal constitutions spell out many liberties and rights, but it is the people who challenge prejudice and discrimination that transform those lofty ideals into practical realities. Wherever There's a Fight paints vivid portraits of these people and brings to light their often hidden stories.
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King's Beloved Community
The team at Reach And Teach believes in the power of nonviolence and few in history have lived and died for that belief the way Martin Luther King did. Much of his dream has come true but there is still a very long way to go before we have the "beloved community" he imagined. As we celebrate Black History Month, let's rededicate ourselves to building that kindom one heart at a time.
You can't celebrate Martin Luther King's life, civil rights history, or Black History Month without singing! Check out Freedom Song. Melding memorable music and inspiring history, Freedom Song presents a fresh perspective on the civil rights movement by showing how songs of hope, faith, and freedom strengthened the movement and served as its voice. In this eye-opening account, you'll discover how churches and other groups-from the SNCC Freedom Singers to the Chicago Children's Choir-transformed music both religious and secular into electrifying anthems that furthered the struggle for civil rights.
From rallies to marches to mass meetings, music was ever-present in the movement. People sang songs to give themselves courage and determination, to spread their message to others, to console each other as they sat in jail. The music they shared took many different forms, including traditional spirituals once sung by slaves, jazz and blues music, and gospel, folk, and pop songs. Freedom Song explores in detail the galvanizing roles of numerous songs, including "Lift Every Voice and Sing," "The Battle of Jericho," "Wade in the Water," and "We Shall Overcome."
As Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others took a stand against prejudice and segregation, a Chicago minister named Chris Moore started a children's choir that embraced the spirit of the civil rights movement and brought young people of different races together, young people who lent their voices to support African Americans struggling for racial equality. More than 50 years later, the Chicago Children's Choir continues its commitment to freedom and justice. An accompanying CD, Songs on the Road to Freedom, featuresthe CCC performing the songs discussed throughout the book.
Mary Edith (Bentley) Abu-Saba, Ph.D
Since we started our article with the name of someone you might not instantly have recognized from the civil rights movement, we'll close this article with one more name you might not recognize. Our friend, Mary Edith (Bentley) Abu-Saba, helped us pick the little shop we now operate in San Mateo. She was part of the Rebuilding Alliance team (who share our space) and after having looked at place after place after place, where one person loved the place but someone else not so much, we were at the end of the line and figuring that we wouldn't find anyplace that we all loved. One last place, though, was yet to be seen. When the realtor unlocked the door, Mary Edith took one look, walked across the shop to the far corner, sat down on the floor near a window overlooking the outdoor garden. "This is it!" she declared with her arms crossed. "I am not moving until you sign the lease."
This wasn't Mary's first experience sitting down and refusing to move until she got her way. Way back on December 14th, 1960, she sat down at Patterson's Drug Store Lunch Counter in Lynchburg Virginia. She had gone to the store to talk to the owner, to ask him to change his policy and allow African Americans to sit down and eat there. The owner wasn't interested in talking and she and her companions sat down at the counter and refused to budge. The police were called and still they sat. Eventually, she and her friends were arrested and became known as the Patterson Six.
In December 2010, Mary Edith was recognized by Randolph College for her courageous act, but the college and town weren't very impressed with her back in 1960! She was tried and convicted and served 30 days in jail. Click here to check out the full story about Mary Edith.
We recently asked Mary Edith to look check out our newest book, Operation Marriage, and consider sharing comments we could use as part of the book launch. Here's what she said: "I have been involved in civil rights issues since college days when I served a 30-day jail sentence for sitting at a lunch counter with three other whites and two African-Americans, just having a cup of coffee," says Mary Bentley Abu-Saba, Ph.D. "Here we are now, having to dig through the weeds of another civil rights issue: marriage equality. The beauty and emotion of this book flows from its presentation through children's eyes. The simplicity of children's thinking can effectively pierce the rough hewn edges of adult logic!! Every school library should have this book and be proud!"
And the team at Reach And Teach is proud to have Dr. Abu-Saba, now retired and living too far away in North Carolina, as a friend! Thank you for sitting down in that far corner of our shop at 178 South Blvd. and thank you for sitting down at Patterson's! Oh yeah... and thank you for all the oranges and bananas!
Other Resources for Civil Rights / Black History Month