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Why Write A Children's Book About The Black Panther Party?

Why Write A Children's Book About The Black Panther Party?

The cover of Rita Williams-Garcia’s Children's novel about the Black Panther Party

The cover of Rita Williams-Garcia’s Children's novel about the Black Panther Party

Why write a book on the experience of children who interacted and received from the Black Panther party and the Young Lords during the late 1960s and early 1970s through the lens of food? Why, because last year when my son was in the seventh grade he came home and shared with me that he wanted to do a report on the Black Panther Party for a black history assignment. When I asked him what he knew about the topic, he shared with me popular views about the panthers that saw them as a young group of gun toting violent vigilantes taken their stand against US institutionalized racism. His language wasn’t that sophisticated but that’s essentially what he said to me. My mother used to say a little knowledge can hurt you so I wanted to write a book to move past his sparse understanding of the Panthers. I figured that if this young man raised in a house with a progressive historian who is regularly sharing related material with him doesn’t know enough about the Panthers, then a book on the topic could help him, his classmates, and other children. More recently the rise in what I would describes as manifestations of old-time violent racism during and after the 2016 presidential election, has ratcheted up my interest in getting this book in the hands of readers. Some preliminary research is very clear to me that there is an insufficient amount of middle school age books on the Panthers for middle school students. The exception to that rule is Rita Williams-Garcia’s award-winning historical fiction novel about the Panthers entitled One Crazy Summer (2010) My children and I read it as an audiobook last summer during a road trip and we enjoyed it immensely and found it riveting.

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