Granddaddy’s Gift Recognized For Social Justice By NNSTOY

I’m super excited that my book, Granddaddy’s Gift, has been recognized by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) as a valuable classroom addition on Social Justice. #TeachSocJustice

Granddaddy’s Gift is a tribute to my grandfather – Joe King, Jr.

Having the right to vote was very important to him. One of my most treasured memories is when I turned 18 my grandfather took me to the courthouse to register to vote. He would be beyond thrilled to learn that his actions all those years ago inspired Granddaddy’s Gift.

Granddaddy’s Gift has stood the test of time. It is included in the Social Justice Book List which is available here: Social Justice Book List

Granddaddy’s Gift is available through Scholastic

Children’s Book Tackles Importance Of Voting

A wonderful review for Granddaddy’s Gift!

Granddaddy’s Gift

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“The United States has seen some turbulent times in its history, especially for African-Americans. Granddaddy’s Gift highlights one aspect of American history, the African American struggle for the right to vote. The stars of this touching story are Joe Morgan and his granddaughter whom he calls ‘Daughter’ but everyone else in their community affectionately calls ‘Little Joe’ because she is like his shadow. Joe Morgan is a man who has worked hard all his life and in spite of his 8th grade education, he owns his own land on which he farms and raises animals. He stresses the importance of education to his granddaughter through both his words and actions. When it comes time for someone in their Mississippi community to stand up and attempt to register to vote, Joe Morgan answers the call. As a result of his decision he, his family and ultimately the entire African American community are faced with adversity, but in the process he teaches his granddaughter some important lessons.

“Granddaddy’s Gift illustrates how the freedoms that many of us take for granted are indeed a gift from the generations before us. The illustrations perfectly complement this keenly written story and add a personal touch. The story instills a sense of pride in the legacy left by ordinary but brave people who helped to change the cultural climate of this country. I highly recommend this book, not only because it relates historical information but also because of the values the story represents.” -S. Seay

For more information: Granddaddy’s Gift

 

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3 Points To Cover When Talking To Children About The Importance Of Voting

As we enter the months leading up to the Presidential election in November, with caucuses, primaries, and debates in between, it is important to sit down with the children in our lives and let them know why it is important to cast votes for the candidates of our choice.

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The hope of every parent is that their children will have a better life than they had. Exposing them to the realities of history might instill in them a desire to change conditions through the political process. We must let them know that there was a time in this country when black people did not have the same rights as white people. Only by being frank with our children can the world change.

Life is meant to move forward. If children have no sense of history, mistakes of the past will be repeated.

This brings me to the three points:

  1. Talk about history – Until the late 1960’s the constitutions of seven Southern states had ‘educational’ requirements which were specifically designed to prevent black citizens from exercising the right to vote. Registrars had complete freedom to reject any answer as incorrect. Several Southern states also enacted poll taxes, which had to be paid before voting. These taxes kept many black people and poor white people from voting.

2.  Discuss tactics currently used to keep African-Americans and Hispanics from voting.

Some of these tactics are:

  •  Changing Polling Locations
  •  Eliminating Early Voting Days
  •  Reducing the Number of Polling Places
  •  Voter ID Laws
  •  Attacks on Groups that Register Voters

3.  Read and discuss a book for children that deal with voting, such as Granddaddy’s Gift. This is a story that teaches children that just one person with a little courage can change their world.

Granddaddy’s Gift takes place in the South during the 1960’s. It is the story of a man who is respected in his town and has a very good life. He owns his own farm, grows food for the family, and takes good care of his family. He raises livestock and harvests crops. But even though Granddaddy has a good life he realizes that there is something else to strive for, like having the rights that all citizens are entitled to, such as the right to vote.

One evening Granddaddy attends a meeting where people are asked to volunteer to register to vote. No one volunteers at first. Then Granddaddy raises his hand. He volunteers to be the first black person in town to try to register to vote, even though great harm can come to him.

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Although Granddaddy is not permitted to register to vote when he goes to the courthouse, bad things begin to happen. His name is printed in the newspaper as a warning to other black people who might try to register to vote. The local co-op will not sell him feed for his livestock anymore. In addition, his family is ostracized by other black people.

But Granddaddy does not give up. He studies for the test on the U.S. Constitution for several weeks. When he goes to the courthouse again, he passes the test and becomes a registered voter.

A big celebration is scheduled that night at a church to celebrate his accomplishment. As Granddaddy and his family arrive at the celebration they see big flames shooting into the night sky. Someone has set the church on fire. But instead of driving people apart, the fire brings the community together. And more people volunteer to register to vote.

The story ends with:

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“On my eighteenth birthday, when I went to register to vote, Granddaddy came with me. I didn’t have to take a test on the constitution. I just had to fill out a card with my name, address, and date of birth. Now I could vote and make my own voice heard.

Granddaddy had taught me to stand up for things, even if I was scared, and always to be proud. His gift never left me.

At the top of the courthouse steps, Granddaddy took my hand. We had come a long way. We still had a long way to go.”

Granddaddy’s Gift is loosely based on my grandfather and the importance he placed on voting. When I reached voting age, my grandfather took me to the courthouse to register to vote.

Open a dialogue with your children and share your experiences with voting. Discuss the voting process with them. Answer their questions. It will be a learning experience for them and a reminder to you about the importance of voting.

For further information: Granddaddy’s Gift

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Vote Today!

It’s Voting Day! A time to vote and make your voice heard!

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There are many issues facing you and your community. Don’t just sit back and let others decide. This is a perfect day to take your child or grandchild with you when you vote so you can explain the importance of making your voices heard at the ballot box.

Walk them through the voting process.  Explain why you are voting a particular way on an issue. Explain why you are voting for a certain candidate.

It is never too early to instill in children the importance of the power of the vote! They will always remember how important voting is to you. And when they are able to vote they will.

As ‘Little Joe’ says in Granddaddy’s Gift when she reaches the age of 18:

“Now I could vote and make my own voice heard.

Granddaddy had taught me to stand up for things, even if I was scared, and always to be proud. His gift never left me.

At the top of the courthouse steps, Granddaddy took my hand. We had come a long way. We still had a long way to go.”

For further information: Granddaddy’s Gift

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The Voting Rights Act

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Let’s not forget what life was like before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. Various tactics, like poll taxes and literacy tests, were used to deny black people the right to vote. Following is an excerpt from Granddaddy’s Gift which demonstrates the problems  African-Americans encountered when they went to register to vote.

Granddaddy’s Gift

The next day Granddaddy rode into town and parked his truck in front of the courthouse. He walked like he was going somewhere, the way he always did. As usual, I was right behind him.

He went into one of the offices and told the lady behind the counter that he wanted to register to vote.

The lady went into the back room and came back with a man. “Well now, Joe,” the man said. “You see, there is this test you have to take on the Mississippi constitution. It’s hard, real hard. You’re doing all right, Joe. Just be satisfied with what you have.”

Granddaddy left the office. I turned and walked after him, my head hanging down. I didn’t want to look at Granddaddy’s face, because I knew he felt bad, too.

He waited for me at the top of the courthouse steps. He took my hand. “Daughter,” he said, “Hold your head up high. We have done nothing wrong.”

Granddaddy told me there was something important to strive for in addition to the good things we had. There were some things that made a person feel good inside, like having the rights we were all entitled to as citizens of these United States.

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For more information about Granddaddy’s Gift visit: Granddaddy’s Gift