Guest columnist

The fight for Black Rights: leadership challenge of 21st century


Children are the hope for the future. History has shown us that youth 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). As parents, educators, and community members, we must stand ready to equip young people for this important leadership role. They will define the moral conscience 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 justice and freedom for all.
One of the first steps in preparing our youth for this vital leadership role is educating them about history, laws, and policies. By gaining a deeper understanding of history, they will disrupt the cycle of racial injustice by not repeating the mistakes of our past. Now is the time to make equal justice under the law come alive. We can move closer to this goal by sharing books and images that explain what African-Americans have endured, while providing a historical context to current events.
I have written three books in the multi-book (The Fight for Black Rights) Alternator Books® series published by Lerner Books. They are particularly relevant and timely, especially when you think about what children are seeing now in the news, on YouTube videos, and on social media. The focus of the books I have contributed to the series is on the history of racial injustice and how to build a more just and equitable society.
The books all feature a wealth of knowledge and images from real-life events throughout history. For example, did you know: during the Reconstruction, more than half a million Black men became voters in the South. They elected officials whose policies helped improve their lives. Around two thousand Black men were elected during Reconstruction. In 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first Black person to become a U.S. Senator.
“Vigilante Danger: A Threat to Black Lives” is an exploration of the history of racially-motivated vigilantism that began long before the nation’s official founding. Children learn about murders from Emmett Till to Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of vigilantes and how we must continue to protect Black lives from vigilante violence.
I explain in “Black Lives Matter: From Hashtag to the Streets” what the Black Lives Matter movement is. More than a slogan, it’s a worldwide movement and children will learn about police brutality, why people are protesting, and the ongoing struggle for equality and racial justice.
“Black Voter Suppression: The Fight for the Right to Vote” discusses the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to end discriminatory practices that denied African-Americans the right to vote. I also talk about ongoing efforts to suppress and silence Black voices at the ballot box.
Pioneering civil rights attorney Charles Hamilton Houston wisely stated, “The race problem in the United States is the type of unpleasant problem which we would rather do without but which refuses to be buried.” This is the leadership challenge of the 21st Century. The Fight for Black Series can provide key learning tools for embarking on this journey in pursuit of racial justice.
Books are available at our Planting People Growing Justice™ Leadership Institute:
Through her organization, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, Dr. Artika Tyner seeks to plant seeds of social change through education, training, and community outreach.


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