For today's #OperationStoryTime, I read a chapter from the book, “Wackiest White House Pets,” by Gibbs Davis. Many U.S. Presidents had pets in the White House including our 5th President, John Quincy Adams and his pet alligator. The chapter today details 4th President James Madison, his wife, Dolley and their pet parrot.
In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. Five days before my 9th birthday, my mother took me to the Los Angeles Coliseum for a memorial for Dr. King. Being 8 3/4 and my birthday party around the corner, I was not interested in going to a memorial for a man I didn't know. But my mother insisted, so I went.
My mother and I were amongst 20,000 people, most of whom were African American who showed up to honor Dr. King. It was the first time I felt different, although I couldn't put my feelings into words. Black faces, old and young surrounded me but what I remember most is the tears. I knew someone had died, but didn't comprehend the meaning of the moment. I just knew everyone there was sad. There was lots of singing, holding hands and rocking back and forth. I don't remember much of my childhood (that's another story) but that feeling of sadness has never left me.
I read Dr. King's “I have a Dream” speech many years ago but recently received an email from the Simon Weisenthal Center reiterating the speech. Dr. King's words were so powerful and so relevant for today that I wanted to share them with you. Please don't skim the speech, but read every word. Dr. King was a great man and left an incredible legacy and would be very saddened by current events. As a community, we need to work very hard to conquer racial injustice in ALL facets of our lives. I am committed to speaking out against racism and helping to educate our children that all people are created equal.
“I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Lincoln Memorial
August 28, 1963
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
For today's #OperationStoryTime, I'm reading “Wackiest White House Pets,” by Gibbs Davis and illustrated by David A. Johnson. It's a very cute picture book that details various pets that were housed in the White House. There was Thomas Jefferson and his grizzly bears, John Quincy Adams and his alligator who lived in the White House's East room and James Buchanan who was given a herd of elephants as a gift!
But today I'm reading about our first president, George Washington who was an expert horseman and had some favorite horses as pets. Listen to what he would do with his horses!
What did you think of this story? Do you love history? What US President would you like to learn more about? Please comment below.
Today my storytime reading is the book, “Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call,” by Mary Ann Fraser. I've become very interested in Alexander Graham Bell and decided to write my next book about him and his dog, Trouve. Bell was a great thinker, living in a time when new inventions came out into the world almost daily. He was curious about life since he was born, always questioning why things worked the way they do. He especially was interested in sound. His father was an “eloqutionist” which is like a speech therapist today and his mother was almost deaf. It's interesting that the man who is credited with inventing the telephone was really interested in helping the deaf!
This book is realistic non-fiction and tells the story of Bell, his thoughts, interests and finding an improvement to the telegraph (sending messages, not a voice, over a wire). The illustrations are great and Mary Ann Fraser has written a good story. Let me know what you think about “Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call” storytime book reading in the comments below. Enjoy!Continue reading
During this rough time in our lives, many authors are reading their books or other books online. We are recording these for parents to access and use in their daytime “homeschooling” of their kids. I decided to do the same. My interest has always been history and I've collected a number of history related books for the younger audience.
Today, I'm reading “Sky High: George Ferris's Big Wheel” written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Gene Barretta. This beginning reader tells the story of George Ferris and his fascination with wheels. He grew up to be an engineer and ended up designing and building the biggest “wheel” there was!
Let me know what you think of this story by commenting below. Enjoy!Continue reading
I've always been interested in Queen Victoria, my so-called namesake. My father said I had a “regal birth” (he's a doctor and I have no idea what that's supposed to mean) and so they named me Victoria. I've read many books about the queen and know that the love of her life was her first cousin, Prince Albert from Coburg (today's Germany). Their marriage was one of great love. When he died at the age of 42 from what was officially named as Typhoid (now they think he died of complications from Crohn's disease), she mourned for the rest of her life. She was crowned in 1837 and died in 1901 and was the longest reigning British monarch until the current Queen Elizabeth overtook that record.
As princess, Victoria was very lonely. She lived at Kensington Palace with her mother, Duchess of Kent and Strathearn and her mother's comptroller, Sir John Conroy. The two of them devised a plan to keep Victoria safe and well called the Kensington System. Victoria wasn't allowed outside the Palace and had to hold someone's hand while going up or down the stairs (so she wouldn't fall).
One day, Sir Conroy brought a young dog to the palace to give to the Duchess. Victoria took one look at the King Charles Spaniel named Dash and fell in love.
I'm pleased to announce my new book, “Dash and Victoria Find True Love.” Dash loves his Queen but when Prince Albert comes he must learn that his heart is big enough to love more than one person. This book will be launched in May, 2019 in honor of Queen Victoria's 200th birthday.Continue reading
My good friend, Darlene, started teaching elementary school students how to sew. She is a crafty person by nature (I know her from scrapbooking) and she's a great teacher so I knew the kids would love her and she would love the kids. Here's my interview with her.
Why did you start teaching kids how to sew? I was in despair because my daughter was graduating high school and leaving for college. I was referred to Shannon from Miss Shannon sewing. When I went to the interview and the first class and I felt healed. God had sent me these other children to fill the hole. I didn’t think I’d like them or love them but I was so open to accepting them. My dream is to do crafts for the rest of my life and now I get to do crafts and play with kids. The bonus is getting paid!
How do you pick the schools and projects? Shannon assigns me to go to a school and the class is 8 weeks long. Shannon plans the projects: coin purse, sachet, emoji face pillow, embroidery, stuffed animals (hedgehog, raccoon). Each week is a different project. I go to the sewing studio to pick up the supplies. The kids get 6-8 projects done.
What is the age group? Any child in elementary school, from K through 6, boys and girls are all in 1 class. Its an after school program, for 1 hour. I teach in both private and public schools.
Do you have any cute stories? I was teaching the kids a new stitch that looks difficult but finishes off the outside of the project. One girl, aged 7, didn’t want to do it. I told her that I believe in her and she can try it. I know she can do it. She tried it and I heard her mentioning to another friend that “Miss Darlene believes in me and now I believe in myself.” There’s no mistakes, there’s only room for creativity. I encourage them to do what they want to do.
Do the kids make things at home? After the hour, the kids don’t want to leave. The parents have to pull them out of the class. The kids go home and will make me something out of their scraps, like a coin purse and bring it to me. There was an autistic boy who was wearing everything he had made, the beret, the fanny pack and the apron. Out of the scraps, he had also made a cape.
Thank you Miss Darlene for bringing sewing back into our schools!
“Between Shades of Gray,” by Ruta Sepetys has absolutely NOTHING to do with the 50 Shades of Grey series. As a matter of fact, the book is being turned into a movie and they changed the name to “Ashes in the Snow,” so there's no confusion!
This riveting book tells the story of Lina, a 15 year old girl living in Lithuania during World War II. Her life is uneventful until there's a knock on the door and three Soviet officers (NKVD) storm into the apartment. We follow Lina and her family through their trek in Siberia, moving constantly on the whim of the Soviet officers from one camp to another.
Lina learns some powerful lessons all the while trying to stay sane and survive with her mother and brother. She uses her intellect on a number of occasions to help save her family.
Ruta Sepetys spoke at the recent SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. This story is one that Ms. Sepetys heard growing up as it happened to a family member. She does a masterful job writing emotions and turmoil in a story that's very close to her heart. I congratulate her in her efforts and on the movie deal. I'll be sure to see it in the theater!