by Monica Clark Robinson
“Let the children march. They will lead the way.”
This book recalls the true story of the time thousands of children joined Martin Luther King’s efforts and marched for A group of rights (things promised to you) that protect people's ability to live life within a larger group (usually a country) without being treated unfairly because of things like skin color, gender, physical limitations, or religion. Civil rights include protecting people's physical and emotional safety.. Their strength, Doing something even when you know it will be hard., & belief in equality comes through in the story’s words & images. These children overcame their fears in facing hate, violence, and time in jail and stayed focused on the importance of being seen and heard. Their efforts were successful with Birmingham, AL soon after starting to enforce Ending rules or actions that separate people of different races. In the United States this meant getting rid of things like separate bathrooms or water fountains for Black and White people. It also made it not okay to refuse to let a Black person do things like stay at a hotel or eat in restaurant..
Talk About It
- What would it feel like to have rules about where you can sit or get a drink or play based only on the color of your skin?
- Dr. King is described as having “fire and love in his eyes.” What do you think that means. (This is important in helping kids understand that people can hold multiple emotions at once.) Why do you think he had so many emotions?
- Talk about the word Doing something even when you know it will be hard. & how much of it the children in Birmingham showed in being willing to stand up & take action for what is right.
- What do you think of the police physically hurting children & arresting them? What do you think the children felt while this was happening? (This can be a great opportunity to talk about the First Amendment and the right to peacefully protest.)
- What do you imagine the parents were feeling watching their kids get hurt and arrested. Talk to them about how Black mothers & fathers continue to live with many of these same worries & fears. They have to teach their kids rules about how to safely interact with the police and, even then, cannot guarantee their children will remain unharmed. Let them know how this makes you feel (sad, angry, etc) & talk about the actions you are taking to help create change in our police system.
- Ask your child if they think that we have achieved real equality and fairness in this country for people of all When people are grouped based upon certain physical characteristics; most commonly skin color.. Have an honest, age appropriate talk with them about the fact that while things have improved there are still a lot of changes needed to truly reach this goal.
- Listen to the Songs sung by participants in the Civil Rights Movement. These songs were often sung during protests and helped people feel part of a group. The songs also helped share what people were feeling, like sadness, joy, and courage. The music also helped to share the ideas and changes the Black community was fighting for. mentioned in the story and talk about their history and meaning—”We Shall Overcome“, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” and “Freedom is Coming“.
- For a great companion book check out The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist.
- The children in the story marched to be heard and gain equal rights. Brainstorm how you, as a family, can show Doing something even when you know it will be hard. in standing up against the inequalities that continue to exist in our country. Create a list of action items for how you can be heard and allow your child to decorate it with positive messages or images before placing it on the fridge or someplace highly visible. Some ideas for action include writing letters to your local officials to tell them why you believe police reform is important; making cards of support to send to Black churches , organizations, etc; or creating signs you can display in your windows.
- Consider organizing a neighborhood march in support of An international group, started within the Black-American community with campaigns against rules and actions that physically hurt Black people or treat them negatively. focused on giving children the chance to experience the power of a When a group of people come together, without doing any harm to other people or things, to show that they are for or against a specific idea, event, law, etc. For example: Black Lives Matter or Immigration Rights.. Your child could reach out to someone in the community you believe to be an A person willing to speak up or simply stand next to someone else (or a group of people) when they are being treated unfairly. An ally is also committed to learning and understanding more in order to help create changes. and ask them to come speak to the group.