Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

 Title: Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

Author: Jim Haskins

Illustrator: Benny Andrews

Grade Level: K-5

Buy it here!

Resources: Author Information

Resources: Lesson Plan on Racism/Segregation

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights is a beautiful true story about the effects of segregation in Savannah, Georgia.  The story follows the life of Westley Wallace (W.W.) Law and his struggle being confronted with racism, how these issues helped to shape him, and lead him to his life purpose.  This life purpose involved him helping to lead the Great Savannah Boycott and the eventual desegregation of the city of Savannah (three years prior to the federal Civil Rights Act making all segregation illegal).  The author and illustrator do a great job combining a simple, yet poignant story with beautiful, full page, oil paintings that help bring the words to life. 

Element #3- Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights does a wonderful job uncovering many of the issues created by segregation.  It accomplishes this by giving a real first-hand experience of an African American man's obstacles, hurts and realities as a result of being treated differently because of the color of his skin and ethnicity.  The author also shows how segregation affected the whole city of Savannah.  Many of the social injustices discussed in this book still have lingering effects all around our country today.  For example, some of the issues about dirty voter registration tactics, uncovered in this book, to keep certain populations from voting are still happening today.  These contemporary issues help to make this a great book to bring awareness to your students about past and present social injustices in the our country and the world.

Follow-Up Activity:
In the resources section above, there is a great activity offered on segregation, where the students have a "mock segregation" experience, dealing with affects of privileges being offered to the majority classmates and not being offered to the minority classmates.  Both groups take turns experiencing both sides of this dynamic.  This activity goes really in-depth and is best done over a 2-3 day period.  This activity, by Discovery Education, is really recommended.

However, a quicker activity that could be done in one sitting would be to do a read aloud with this book.  The way the book is written, with each page having its own heading and central focus, provides several teachable moments about segregation, white privilege, non-violence, sit-ins, boycotts, unity, etc...  After reading and discussing the book with the class, this activity could be extended into a writing workshop format, where the students could write about their feelings and/or experiences associated with some of the issues revealed in this book.

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