The march toward justice is a long, twisting journey. Three steps forward, one step back. One step forward, three back. Laws change and the march moves forward. People resist change, and the march slows to a standstill, waiting for a better time. Then, at last, ideas have changed enough and people have changed enough. Finally, the march cannot be stopped.
I read this passage, from Susan E. Goodman’s picture book The First Step: How one Girl Put Segregation on Trial, with a sad sense of deja vu, because this is where we seem to be as a nation at this very moment, once again. Sarah Roberts fought for the right to attend her neighborhood school in 1847 and lost; and then came a better time, so that Linda Brown could fight the same fight in 1950, and win – the march moved forward. It is important for us to read this story with our students now to remind ourselves that the fight for social justice is one that we can never step away from: there is always resistance to change, but we must move forward.
E.B. Lewis’ beautiful paintings set the scene for these parallel stories:
Another timely book, is Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, with photographs by Wing Young Huie:
This is a sparely written but eloquent photo essay into the sacrifices people make for their families in bringing them into the United States in search of a better life.
They kept going day after day
so we’d have choices they didn’t have.
We read this in class today, in order to reflect upon what we are as a nation of immigrants many of whom sacrificed their presents for their children’s futures. Each photograph told such a rich story, and allowed for deep conversations.