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  • July 2011
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More Than a Dream

I had the pleasure these past few weeks to spend some evenings reading with a neighborhood middle school student. As we read aloud from two books centered around slavery and civil rights, I realized that I also had the responsibility to provide answers to questions like “What is segregation?” and to explain “Why is segregation bad?”

Mr. Paul from Mississippi Trial, 1955 responds to the question “What wrong with people keeping to their own kind? Grandpa used to say that’s the way God wants it.” in this way: “Maybe God put different kinds of people on earth so that we could all learn to get along.”

I agree that the world works better when all people work together just like the body walks better when both legs walk together. What do you think?

Day of Tears by Julius Lester

A book written in dialogue, Day of Tears, makes it easy to read aloud.

On March 2 and 3, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. More than 400 slaves were sold. On the first day of the auction, the skies darkened and torrential rain began falling. The rain continued throughout the two days, stopping only when the auction had ended. The simultaneity of the rain storm with the auction led to these two days being called “the weeping time.”

Among the characters that we hear from is Emma, a slave owned by Pierce Butler and caretaker of his two daughters, and Pierce, a man with a mounting gambling debt and household to protect. Emma wants to teach his daughters—one who opposes slavery and one who supports it—to have kind hearts. Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to survive, Pierce decides to cash in his “assets” and host the largest slave auction in American history. And on that day, the skies open up and weep endlessly on the proceedings below. (From Product Description)

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe

In Mississippi in 1955, a sixteen-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen-year-old African American from Chicago.

At first Hiram is excited to visit his hometown in Mississippi. But soon after he arrives, he crosses paths with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is also visiting for the summer, and Hiram sees firsthand how the local whites mistreat blacks who refuse to “know their place.” When Emmett’s tortured dead body is found floating in a river, Hiram is determined to find out who could do such a thing. But what will it cost him to know? Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a gripping read, based on true events that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. (From Product Description)

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