My new children’s book, Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire, provides a framework for social justice advocacy and leadership development. It serves as a reminder that young people can make a difference. In fact, history has shown us that students have been at the forefront of social change movements. Whether it be the Freedom Riders of the past (who fought against racial segregation) or the Dream Defenders of our present (who fought against stand your ground laws). But as educators and community members we must stand ready to equip students for this important leadership role. Some will ask why? The answer for me is simple: young people are the future. I believe- they will guide the moral compass of our nation. They have the power to move us closer to the essence of unity beyond the restraints of black or white or rich or poor to the higher moral ground of freedom and justice for all.
It also a reminder that students are never too young to make a difference. The main character of my book is only eight years old. She wonders whether she is too young to take action. She is re-assured by her grandmother “your age does not show what you are capable of, so don’t let someone tell you that you’re too young to make a difference.”
During my visit to Basswood Elementary School, I shared about how ordinary people like Ida B. Wells, Paul Robeson, Dr. Wangari Maathai, Ella Baker, Shirley Chisholm and Charles Hamilton Houston, were able to make an extraordinary impact. Each of these superheroes for justice rolled up their sleeves and decided to plant seeds of social change in their community. A great example is Dr. Wangari Maathai who wisely stated: “Planting trees is planting hope.” Dr. Maathai established the Green Belt Movement in 1977. She organized women in rural parts of Kenya to plant trees, which replenishes the communities’ main source of fuel for cooking, creates income, and stops soil erosion. She started with planting just one tree. To date, the Movement has planted over 51 million trees and more than 30,000 women have been trained in a trade that helps women to earn income while preserving their lands.
Dr. Wangari Maathai teaches an important lesson for seeking justice- start somewhere and plant that one seed of social change.
Tune in and learn more today about how you too can make a difference in the world!