Youth & Family

Claudette Colvin Day — A Cross-Racial Collaboration that CHANGED the Story…. “History”

By March 2, 2021 No Comments

IT’S Claudette Colvin DAY!

One year ago, in pre-pandemic times, ETHICAL held its first annual Claudette Colvin Festival as the inaugural event for an Intergenerational 1:3o series, called FIRST SUNDAYS.  We called this special event the “HI-STORY” project, to invite people to dig into history for hidden stories! Why?

Because the story of Claudette Colvin is one such story!

Here is her story as a song — a “wheels on the bus” song!   It’s actually the new version of a familiar story — the one we all know as the Montgomery Bus Boycott story, usually associated with Rosa Parks.  But all stories have stories beneath them… so dig!  Digging into this story, is exactly what author Phillip Hoose did in seeking a story that reveals how kids make a difference!!!! He dug into history and found some clues that pointed toward a teenage Claudette Colvin whose actions, early in 1955, BOTH planted seeds and brought in the harvest for this famous event… Mr. Hoose reached out to Ms. Colvin — and together, in 2009,  they published a story that literally CHANGES HISTORY!

Even in 1955, what YEE aptly calls FAIRNESS FEBRUARY was deemed a time to study “Black History”.MARCH! But just as this month of MARCH that follows, suggests in its own name, after you learn about the inequities and injustices of American racial history, it’s time to stand up for what you’ve learned!  … and that’s just what 15 year old Claudette Colvin did on March 2, 1955!!!!!

Her cross-racial collaboration with Phillip Hoose is a gift to the world:  a book called TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE. Since this publication, many children’s books have followed suit to honor her legacy. This year, in the 2nd Annual Claudette Colvin Festival (March 7th at 1:30), YEE celebrates cross-racial collaborations and friendships as PEACE WORK.

LOOKING BACK to MOVE FORWARD:
…as the Sankofa Image (which YEE learned about in our New Years’ Kwanzaa gathering) would encourage…
As YEE creates cross-racial friendship stories to share, YEE participants draw on their ethical studies of Justice January and Fairness February…

With the teachings of Dr. Bentley Gibson, The Bias Adjuster, YEE has engaged in dialogue about bias awareness.  Through participating in research about Black inventors, and later Black musicians, YEE exemplified how positive role models can offer positive “bias-adjustment” in a world where Black excellence is too often kept in the shadows, or actually eclipsed by the overwhelming context of struggle.  

AND
With the inspiration of author/artist Wendy Kindred, YEE studied the makings of a children’s story about cross-racial friendship. The author showed us how she used her own experience and ideas but told the story of two boys, creating friendship characters that were not “literally” herself  in “Hank and Fred.”  She brought respect and individuality to both characters, and showed the joy of friendship they find in one another.
YEE have been noticing and discussing books and stories about cross-racial friendships.

Illustration by E.B. Lewis Jacqueline Woodson’s “THE OTHER SIDE”

YEE would love to hear from YOU, dear readers far and wide, about such books you have enjoyed. After searching and discussing this topic with many over many years, it actually seems that such stories are way too rare. While many new publications portray the stories of people of color as empowering visions, still too few visions of cross-racial friendship are on the shelves.  One favorite is: TWO FRIENDS, about the historic friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, so beautifully illustrated by New York artist, Sean Qualls. A few books by New York’s Jacqueline Woodson also lay important ground on this path.

                 DISCUSSION AND DEED:
Young Ethical Explorers have discussed how crucial Bridge-crossing Friendships are, in a world of peace-building.  Peace movements throughout history are augmented by the revolutionary dialogues born of such friendships.  Bonding through diversity, on the level of age, gender, culture, race, ability… is so important and yet many people, all around the United States and the World find very limited circumstance, opportunity and support for this to happen naturally….
New York City is uniquely diverse and some NYC kids may indeed become peace leaders simply because of the bridge-crossing-skills that are part of their daily life, and natural their friendships.  Support and value of children’s cross-racial friendships is important for adults to be both casual and intentional about. Cross-racial friendships throughout American history have been challenged and discouraged once children pass early childhood — and in our current times, let that awareness embolden structural conscientious support from adults.  In fact, because demographic groups can too easily self-separate, Learning For Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) offers Mix It Up Day guides to counteract prejudice and preempt bully behavior.  As their website states, “Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.”   
Ethical NYC’s Young Ethical Explorers, come together with support and ethical intent each week, engaging in bridge-crossing friendship-building processes.  From a bird’s eye view on our world, this is worth celebrating because… bridge-crossing communication and friendship building is PEACE WORK!
              THE DEED OF CREATING STORIES OF CROSS RACIAL FRIENDSHIP:
           Create a CROSS-RACIAL FRIENDSHIP STORY!
           Identify something two friends do to have fun and/or Create a problem two friends solve together.
           Choose two character’s names and draw pictures of them enjoying each other and being curious, interested, and engaged in one anther.
           Send it with YoungETHICALexplorers@gmail.com
Share it with the community at FIRST SUNDAYS, on MARCH 7th at 1:30
Please share the poster above for March 7th FIRST SUNDAY EVENT with friends and family. Please plan to come!  
This event is open to participation and attendance from within and beyond our YEE group. 
If you know someone who would like to participate or attend,  please reach out.  
Contact YoungEthicalExplorers@gmail.com to get more involved. 

 

 

 

Audrey Kindred

Audrey Kindred

Audrey Kindred leads programming for youth and families at Ethical NYC

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