In 1957, nine black schoolchildren enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and compelled the nation to live up to its promise of equality. Fifty years later, Central High's teachers and students revisit the past to help shape the future. Check out this great story from our friends at Tolerance.org which chronicles how today's children gathered the stories from 50 years ago and looked into what's changed, and hasn't changed, since 1957. After reading the story, you'll find activities you can use in your own classroom.
The Reach And Teach team has also added a couple of videos from YouTube to help tell the story plus links to some great resources for further study.
What happens when a Palestinian man who lost his home in Israel and a Jewish woman whose family went through the holocaust tell their stories to each other in front of a group of High School students? The students learn the art of peacemaking through dialogue! Get a free DVD of this amazing experience and use it as a launching point for your own dialogues.
The Reach And Teach team had been invited to speak to a seniors group. Along with the lovely lunch someone made for us, we each got a ChicoBag as a gift from the event organizer.
This tiny little pouch with a little hook opened up into a large and sturdy shopping bag. We knew right away that we wanted to have these great bags available to our customers at events like the Green Festival (buy lots of Reach And Teach products and carry them away in a Chico Bag), but we also learned how schools can raise money using these nifty little pouches.
Given how so many schools are struggling just to keep arts and sports programs alive for kids, any way parents, teachers, and others can raise some extra cash is a good thing (while we all keep working on repairing the inequities of this broken system.)
Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out - Anger Management
Anger is something we all need to deal with, whether it is our own anger or the anger being expressed by someone we are with. Whether we are parents, teachers, youth-group leaders, counselors... anyone dealing with other people, anger is going to come up.
Reach And Teach believes that it is critical for peacemaking and social justice that children learn how to deal with anger as early as possible. Of course we, as adults in their lives, can offer the best examples of how to deal with anger. How are you doing with that? Maybe this teach-in can help.
One of the best books we've ever encountered on a healthy way to deal with anger is Ahn's Anger (pictured below). It is one of many resources we have available for sale at Reach And Teach. Click here to view more products available from Reach and Teach dealing with anger management for kids and teens.
Anger is a normal feeling. How we respond to our anger can either be healthy or toxic. This teach-in offers you an opportunity to help kids (and adults) look at anger, how they react to it, whether their reaction is healthy or toxic, whether that reaction achieves good or bad outcomes, and how they might react differently to achieve better outcomes.
You are welcome to use this teach-in to create your own presentation or to just use it for your own development.
Room To Breathe: From Chaos to Peace in the Classroom
We have heard remarkable stories of classroom transformations from chaos to calmness over the years. A certain amount of chaos, at certain times of day, depending on the objective of the lesson at hand, can be important for learning. But, when a classroom is in chaos most of the time, you've got trouble. That's why we're very happy to share this program from our friends at the National Radio Project's Making Contact show.
Important note: Some people will look at certain schools and say "Those kids will never learn!" We know that to be WRONG! Children of all income brackets, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, sizes, shapes, colors, you name it can and will learn given the best possible conditions. That doesn't necessarily mean tons of money (though money for schools sure does help). It starts with believing in the children and giving the teachers the tools to succeed. Here's a tool that teachers across the country are starting to learn about, thanks to programs like this.
If you find the program valuable, please spread the word. And... consider making a donation! They're an amazing nonprofit that has done fantastic "citizen journalism" for many years and we'd love to see them do even more, with your help!
Ling Busch, guidance counselor at Marina Middle School; Megan Cowan, mindfulness teacher, students and teachers at Marina Middle School in San Francisco
We're now adding to the story that Making Contact posted on their web site (all the content above this) with a note of our own. We recently added a new product to our shop called Kids Own Wisdom. For early grades, we feel this is a great tool to help children learn to navigate the social roads they are beginning to travel in school, in more healthy and productive ways.
No matter what the subject, there are some basic but critical things you can do to either help create an environment for someone else to learn, or learn something for yourself. This video from our friends at What Kids Can Do sums up some best practices in a very engaging way. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn and anyone who wants to teach!
In this video you'll learn about Ned's Great 8 tips for learning. I agree with Ned that I learn best when...:
At Reach And Teach we encounter so many wonderful organizations, people, web sites, and more that we want to make sure the world knows about.
The following are resources we recommend you check out. Please contact us if you have your own recommendations.
Tolerance.org (A place to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools - tons of lesson plans, activities, and free teacher resources)
What Kids Can Do - Based in Providence, R.I., What Kids Can Do (WKCD) is a national nonprofit founded in 2001 by an educator and a journalist with more than 60 years combined experience supporting adolescent learning in and out of school. Using digital, print, and broadcast media, WKCD presses before the broadest audience possible a dual message: the power of what young people can accomplish when given the opportunities and supports they need and what they can contribute when we take their voices and ideas seriously. The youth who concern WKCD most are those marginalized by poverty, race, and language, ages 12 to 22.
EdChange - is a team of passionate, experienced, established, educators dedicated to equity, diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice. With this shared vision, we have joined to collaborate in order to develop resources, workshops, and projects that contribute to progressive change change in ourselves, our schools, and our society.
New Learning Culture - Educational Consulting for a Harmonious Lifestyle provides parenting classes, consulting and workshops for educators, parents and home-schooling families, Pre/K-8: • Information and practical tools for child-centered education • Enrichment for traditional schools, Montessori and Waldorf schools • Hands-on learning for all subjects of the curriculum • Self-directed learning techniques from Montessori, Wild, Froebel, Freinet, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia education.
Voices of Witness - offers a book series that empowers those most closely affected by contemporary social injustice. Using oral history as a foundation, the series depicts human rights crises around the world through the stories of the men and women who experience them. Voice of Witness books provide a reality-based understanding of ongoing injustices in the United States and around the world. They have been taught in colleges and schools throughout the world, and have been adopted as key resources by national advocacy groups and their member affiliates, including the ENOUGH project, STAND and the Save Darfur Coalition.
Kay E. Vandergrift's Literature for Children and Young Adults - An incredible wealth of resources put together and maintained by someone who obviously loves literature. If you're researching something on a particular subject that has to do with children/YA literature, this is a good place to start your hunt.
Common Action - envisions all people everywhere living engaged lives, including children, youth, and adults.
National Peace Academy - Incredible films, teacher guides, and resources on peacemaking through story-telling.
Teaching A People's History: Zinn Education Project (The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the use of Howard Zinn's best-selling book A People's History of the United States and other materials for teaching a people's history in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.)
Disability Social History Project - The Disability History Project is a community history project and we welcome your participation. This is an opportunity for disabled people to reclaim our history and determine how we want to define ourselves and our struggles. People with disabilities have an exciting and rich history that should be shared with the world.
Earth Preservers - Wide-ranging environmental news and information site on the Internet, combining a monthly educational newsletter for kids with continuously-updated reports that find the green in everything - from science and technology to fashion and design; from crime and the law to music and art; from jobs and business to sports and celebrities. Earth Preservers has something for everyone, including short films and documentaries; interactive quizzes; free online classroom resources; videos of inspirational eco-kids in action, thought-provoking poll questions about the way we live, and more.
Green Teacher - A magazine that helps youth educators enhance environmental and global education inside and outside of schools.
Learning to Give (Developer of lessons and resources that teach giving and volunteerism, civic engagement, and character, through service learning.
Sarah Hoffman's Recommended Reading list for gender identity and LGBT families, but sensory processing disorder, race, diversity and nonconformists of all sorts, and, of course-and sadly-bullying.
Shaping Youth - Resources about media and marketing's influence on kids
PBS for Teachers (Multimedia resources, lesson plans & Professional Development for America's PreK-12 educators.)
iCivics.org (A web-based education project with incredible online games designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy. iCivics is the vision of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support.)
GenerationOn.org (The youth service division of Points of Light Institute, an organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. Our new division focuses on igniting the power of all kids (pre-school through 12th grade) to make their mark by creating meaningful change in the world.)
Education for Liberation Network (A national coalition of teachers, community activists, researchers, youth and parents who believe a good education should teach people-particularly low-income youth and youth of color-how to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face.)
Our Developing World (Dedicated to bringing the realities of the "third world" and the richness of diverse cultures to North Americans, our developing world(odw) provides teacher training and materials, and programs for community groups and classes, reality tours, a tri-annual newsletter - our developing world(odw)´s voices and a lending resource library free to local teachers.)
The World As It Could Be Human Rights Curriculum - Educational materials and a celebratory process for schools, particularly, though not limited to, high schools, as well as organizations working with youth to address social justice issues, that inspire youth to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and be engaged members of their local and global communities to manifest the document's words. The educational materials incorporate the creative arts as an integral part of the teaching process.
Fighting Poverty With Faith Action Toolkits - Everything you need to run a 2011 Food Stamp Challenge program or host a Hunger Banquet, two incredible actions that truly teach what it is like to be poor in America. Theae toolkits have a strong faith message so are appropriate for faith-based organizations, churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues.
The Video Project - Distributes educational media and documentary programming on critical environmental, global and social issues to the widest possible audience worldwide, including colleges, schools, libraries, businesses, religious groups, government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The Children's Justice Alliance - Seeks to improve outcomes for children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system. The link goes to a list of recommended books for children who have parents/caregivers involved in the criminal justice system.
Hand in Hand Parenting (helping parents nurture their connection with their children. Founded in 1989 by Patty Wipfler, we are a growing team of staff, instructors, consultants and volunteers who provide information and support to parents around the globe.)
Resources for Women's History Month
March is Women's History Month and what better resource to start with than our own Cynthia Chin Lee's Amelia to Zora? From adventurer Amelia Earhart to computer pioneer Grace Hopper to novelist Zora Neale Hurston, discover women who have made a difference in people's lives. Filled with childhood anecdotes, tales of hardship, and success stories, this book will inspire and encourage you to change your own world for the better. Cynthia Chin-Lee's moving biographies show by example that everyone has the potential to become extraordinary. Intricate collages by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy draw from events in the women's lives.
Reach And Teach is proud to be the publisher of Cynthia Chin Lee's latest book, Operation Marriage. Click here to check that out.
Martyr of the Amazon: One of the less visible hats worn by the Reach And Teach team is that of webmaster for organizations that touch our hearts. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at SND University needed help building a new web site and we jumped in with all four feet (Toby's paws weren't available at the time). Through our work with them we learned about Sister Dorothy Stang. She was murdered in 2005 after drawing a lot of attention to the plight of the poor farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. She became an advocate for the poor AND for protecting the endangered environment of the rainforest.
Sister Rosanne Murphy wrote a book about Dorothy's life and we are honored to carry it in our store. It is a powerful story of an amazing woman and well deserving of being remembered 12 months a year, but especially during Women's History Month.
On an "It's a small world" note, a few years ago we were at the Northern California Home Schooling Conference and the booth next to ours was occupied by a man who taught people how to use a very different approach to math. I went to his workshop and was astounded at how quickly he was able to use a contraption we were all asked to build out of sticks to start teaching some very sophisticated math concepts. Given my math-phobia, it was even more amazing that I understood what he was talking about!
After the workshop I picked up one of the books he had written and there was a picture of Dorothy Stang! I mentioned this to him and he told me that she was his aunt! He had included her story in the book because he believed that math was critical for social justice work. I was hooked. A few hours later I looked up to see a woman who looked exactly like Dorothy Stang standing in the booth! It was her sister. She was a very gregarious and funny person and we had a great talk about Dorothy.
So, to connect the dots, even though this is Women's History Month, I'll toss in a math book I think you should check out.
Within this book are shown symbols of the ages (vehicles through which we can engage), techniques that creatively draw students into varied math topics, proven instructional materials which encourage unexpected growth, new ways to present, and new themes to comprehend.
Margaret Chase Smith for President: Who was the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket? If you answered Senator Hilary Clinton, you guessed wrong! Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket. This biography highlights key moments in her personal and political life. From Smith's humble beginnings to her foray into Congress to her historic decision to run for president, readers will be inspired by the fiesty, independent woman who embodied the qualities upon which this country was founded.
While lots of people will focus on the past for a time like Women's History Month, one member of the team here at Reach And Teach (yes - I mean Drew Durham) thinks we should also consider the plight of women around the world today, and what we can do about it. That's why we're including this amazing New York Times bestseller on our list of resources for this month.
Half the Sky: With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.
Emma's Poem: We've always been inspired by the "Give us your poor" poem associated with the Statue of Liberty. Most know the poem but few know about the author, Emma Lazarus. Born to wealth, she created quite a stir as she departed the expected roles for women of her status and spent much of her time with and working for the poor. She was especially moved by the plight of immigrants. One of her poems, a fairly explicit love poem written to a woman, lends some credibility to the idea that she may have been lesbian. Already an outcast because of the people with whom she chose to associate and for whom she advocated, single, and Jewish, perhaps she had enough baggage in her life that she didn't need to also be "out." (Of course being out would have been unheard of in her day.)
Because of her work and especially her Colossus poem, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of hope for all outcasts across the world, gay and straight, all colors of the rainbow, all religions, all genders... This book tells a bit about her story and how her poem came to be an inspiration then and continues to inspire us now.
Riding Freedom: Charley Parker was a legendary stagecoach driver, an unbeatable horse handler, and the first woman to vote in the United States! How did it happen, and why did Charlotte Parker decide to become Charley?
It all began when she was twelve years old, and in just a few hours, lost her best friend, her favorite horse, and her special job working in the stable. She was left with nothing but a job in the kitchen that she hated, and the knowledge that she’d never leave the orphanage where she’d spent the last ten years. But Charlotte was tough and strong and determined to make her own way in life, leaving the cruelty she’d known since she was two-years old behind her.
Girls couldn’t travel alone in the 1860s, but boys could. And Charlotte hadn’t been taught to be a girl anyway. She couldn’t sew a stitch, had never had a doll or a tea party, and didn’t know what it meant to be a lady. But she could run like the wind, and ride better than any of the boys in the orphanage. It seemed easy enough to pretend to be a boy. She borrowed some boys’ clothes and enough money for a stagecoach ticket, cut her hair, and left. From then on her name was Charley Parker. And as Charley, she could survive. The stage line ended in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is where Charley’s life began.
How does a 12-year-old girl become a “man” who was famous all over California as a one-eyed stagecoach driver, the best in the state? How does a skinny 12-year-old girl grow up to be a landowner and the first woman to vote? Follow Charley and Charlotte from Massachusetts to Rhode Island and finally to California, and let them tell you how!
In the 1860s, women didn’t drive six-horse stagecoach teams, get kicked in the face by horses, or vote in presidential elections, but Charlotte did — as Charley.
Revolutionary Women: To close out our resources for Women's History Month, we take a leap from warm and cuddly stories about girls (who dress up as boys) and horses to the more radical / revolutionary edge of the political spectrum. From our friends at PM Press comes this fascinating stencil book of revolutionary women. Warning... These are NOT all examples of nonviolent revolutionaries!
PM Press describes the book: A radical feminist history and street art resource for inspired readers! This book combines short biographies with striking and usable stencil images of thirty women—activists, anarchists, feminists, freedom-fighters and visionaries.
It offers a subversive portrait history which refuses to belittle the military prowess and revolutionary drive of women, whose violent resolves often shatter the archetype of woman-as-nurturer. It is also a celebration of some extremely brave women who have spent their lives fighting for what they believe in and rallying supporters in climates where a woman's authority is never taken as seriously as a man's. The text also shares some of each woman's ideologies, philosophies, struggles and quiet humanity with quotes from their writings or speeches.
The women featured are: Harriet Tubman, Louise Michel, Vera Zasulich, Emma Goldman, Qiu Jin, Nora Connolly O'Brien, Lucia Sanchez Saornil, Angela Davis, Leila Khaled, Comandante Ramona, Phoolan Devi, Ani Pachen, Anna Mae Aquash, Hannie Schaft, Rosa Luxemburg, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Lolita Lebron, Djamila Bouhired, Malalai Joya, Vandana Shiva, Olive Morris, Assata Shakur, Sylvia Rivera, Haydée Santamaría, Marie Equi, Mother Jones, Doria Shafik, Ondina Peteani, Whina Cooper and Lucy Parsons.
Daring to Be Ourselves: We've worked with Marianne Schnall over the years and were so excited to hear about this book. Given the incredible experience she's had working with amazing women from all over the world, she's had the opportunity to learn from and share teachings from powerful women, women who have suffered incredible hardship, women have overcome what most would see as impossible obstacles, women who have beaten the odds, women who can inspire all men and women to accept any challenge, love everyone we encounter, and build a better world for ourselves, our children, our nation and the planet. This is a great book with which you can spend a few minutes each day or a few hours. No matter how much time you spend, you'll be rewarded with new insights, strength, courage, and perhaps a chuckle or two.
In Daring to Be Ourselves, freelance journalist Marianne Schnall brings together the most inspiring and empowering quotes from her interviews with many of the world's most interesting and influential women. The result is a compelling collection of insights and words of wisdom on a variety of important issues, including equality, overcoming adversity, aging, finding balance in life, taking care of the earth, and more. Thought provoking, enlightening, and even humorous at times, this book is a valuable resource for women and girls everywhere. Daring to Be Ourselves offers inspiring words from these amazing women:
And finally... speaking of women... Derrick and I (Craig writing here) were fortunate enough during this year's Green Festival to win some coaching sessions from the team at Rigoré Consulting and we had our first fantastic session about a week ago. We did some great brainstorming and one of the key ideas we came up with for the shop was to have a postcard available at the front counter that we could hand to people, encouraging them to help spread the word. Catherine and Elyse made it clear, though, that besides just handing people the postcard, we really had to call the visitor to action. "Be clear about what you want them to do." So, since these two women gave us some great ideas and encouragement, I thought I'd end this teach-in with a call to act:
Buy these books! Just click any one of the links below and buy the books!
One more call to act. If you like this page, please share it with friends!
Larry Dane Brimner - Master Storyteller - And Other Resources for Teaching Civil Rights History
If you're planning to teach about the civil rights movement, Reach And Teach offers a wealth of resources we hope you'll include in your lesson planning. To start, let's look at three books by an amazing storyteller, Larry Dane Brimner:
Black & White
We Are One: The Bayard Rustin Story
The Reach And Teach team is in complete agreement with the multitude of awards Larry Dane Brimner has received for his work. Painstakingly researched with incredible detail, these books are finely crafted works of art, compellingly written, sometimes chilling in their depictions, but always keeping the reader so engaged that the books are impossible to put down.
In the years leading up to 1963, racial bombings were so frequent in Birmingham, Alabama, that it acquired the moniker "Bombingham." Until September 15, these attacks had been threatening but not deadly. On that Sunday morning, however, a Klan-planted bomb detonated, killing four little girls. Before the sun had set, another two children would also be killed. This is the story of that tragic day in U.S. history that set the course for civil rights reforms.
In the nineteen fifties and early sixties, Birmingham, Alabama, became known as Bombingham. At the center of this violent time in the fight for civil rights, and standing at opposite ends, were Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor. From his pulpit, Shuttlesworth agitated for racial equality, while Commissioner Connor fought for the status quo. Relying on court documents, police and FBI reports, newspapers, interviews, and photographs, author Larry Dane Brimner first covers each man’s life and then brings them together to show how their confrontation brought about significant change to the southern city. The author worked closely with Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute as well as with Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and his wife.
Bayard (pronounced BUY-ard) Rustin was a man with purpose--and a man with heart. His was a life dedicated to helping others--fighting injustices and discriminations--so that people could live as one. He made his mark working alongside African American labor-leader A. Philip Randolph and provided guidance to Martin Luther King, Jr., about the techniques and principles of Gandhi's nonviolent protest throughout King's short but remarkable civil rights career. He was thrust upon the world stage in 1963 when he spearheaded the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Kirkus (Sep. 1, 2007) had this to say about it: "An effective mix of major historical events and small, telling anecdotes, along with the attractive photo-essay format, make this a fascinating volume, informative and well written."
Now let's look at other resources we've recommended in other stories on our web site. The following comes from our Black History Month Teach-In for 2012.
The Tuskegee Airmen
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