Today, I am thrilled to do the cover release for The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, illustrated by Charly Palmer.
I have been thinking a lot lately about activism. Can one person can make a difference? In controlling what we can control — as parents, as individuals — perhaps the 1:1 making a difference is actually a powerful way to make change. And I think change has a lot to do with optimism that we, each of us, do make a difference and staying the course and not being discouraged from trying.
To this end, I have some short Q & A with Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace.
Reverend F. D. Reese, image from Wikipedia
Q1: You were able to meet with Reverend F. D. Reese who led the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama before his recent death. What did he say that most impacted you?
He stressed how important it was that everyday people like the teachers participated in great numbers. “We’re not just teachers in the classroom,” he told them, “but leaders in the community.”
The movement succeeded not solely because of leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Reverend Reese, but because “ordinary citizens” like the teachers risked their lives and their livelihoods for freedom. As much as anything he said to us, we were impressed with the way he said things. Kind, thoughtful, and always determined.
Q2: It feels like voting rights is still an issue today. Did Reverend F. D. Reese touch on that?
He remained committed to social justice throughout his life. And his activism was inclusive. He told us that he marched to secure everyone’s freedom, because when one voice is suppressed, then all voices are in danger of being silenced.
Here’s what he said recently about voting rights: “I tell young people today that they cannot rest on our victories. That means registering to vote and participating in what this country has to offer.”
Q3: What kind of research did your illustrator Charly Palmer do for this book?
Fortunately, the author and some of the brave people that were a part of “The Teachers March” are still alive and they were will to share with me, letters, newspapers clipping and great photographs of some of the events that took place.
Q4: What do you hope readers will take away from this timely book?
That everyday people can change the world, and how much power there is in peaceful protest and standing up for a just cause. Reverend Reese and the Selma teachers risked their lives for freedom. They helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and became role models to thousands of students.
The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, illustrated by Charly Palmer.
Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers’ March, featuring evocative illustrations and eyewitness testimonies.
Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this important story. [picture book, ages 5 and up I am guessing]
It releases September 8, 2020!
p.s. Here is a great resource on Selma:
Teaching for Change: Teaching About Selma
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African American Books for Kids
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.