March: Book One Discussion

We had such a meaningful and engaging discussion on March 22nd, about March: Book One & March: Book Two.

March book club

Here’s part of the group posing with our copies of Book One.

march club

A few students working on a survey.

We began book club with this ice-breaker on privilege. It helped us start talking about what privilege means and the different kinds of privilege that we possess.

We then watched this ROOTS music video while students helped themselves to pizza and got settled.

We talked about images and footage from the video that looked familiar, because we learned about some of the events and Jim Crow practices from reading March.

We watched selections of these interviews with John Lewis and talked a lot about what it means to get into “Good Trouble.”

We were privileged to have Interagency Academy’s own Ms. Gaye as our guest presenter. Ms. Gaye grew up in the south and was a kid and teen during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Some discussion prompts for our guest, Ms. Gaye:

  • John Lewis’ mom told him to stay out of white people’s way. Don’t get into trouble. Does that resonate with you? Did you experience elders giving you similar advice? Did you and your friends ignore that advice?
  • Thoughts on youth activism today/youth affecting change  – gun control, for example.
  • Review Civil Rights Timeline: 1954 – 1968
    • What was happening in your life and how did these events impact you?Here’s a short video of Ms. Gaye sharing her experiences with us:

After book club, students continued to work with their English teacher, Kevin Geloff, responding to the prompt, “What does it mean to get into ‘good trouble?'” They also read and discussed the poem, The Ballad of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

[To all who marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 and every year since.]

one winter night Jimmie Lee Jackson
with five hundred sisters and brothers
marched down the road singing of freedom
craving the vote the court denied them
one hundred years after emancipation
Alabama’s sons and daughters of slaves    cotton pickers    sharecroppers by trade

harassed    blocked    lynched

trying to register to vote

officers lined the street for protection
someone shot out all the streetlights
plunged the town into dark confusion
sheriff deputies and state troopers
kicked at random and beat on folks
with locally made mahogany bats

special-ordered    extra-long

special-ordered    ball-bearing tips

special-ordered    to stop freedom

Jimmie Lee fled with his mother Viola
hid under a table at Mack’s Cafi
his grandfather Cager stumbled in
troopers pursued wrestled him down
Jimmie rushed to defend slammed away
a pistol was jammed into Jimmie Lee’s stomach

point-blank shots    blood flooded the floor

Jimmie fled    collapsed by the bus-stop

friends got him to Selma in time to die

Jimmie Lee Jackson an American hero
a Vietnam Vet a church deacon
murdered at 26 for trying to vote
the fate of this fighter who fought twice for freedom
wasn’t broadcast throughout the nation
just wailed across the black belt of poverty

the black community was sick from waiting

the black community began to rumble

the black community was ready to boil

movement leaders feared a riot
tried to focus the nation on the plight
of backs in a nonviolent struggle for voting rights
they hauled Jimmie onto a mule drawn wagon
pulled his body through miles of poverty
tramped beside him through acres of cotton

this time the nation carried the news

the march    the people weeping behind the casket

a hero murdered    democracy failing

it took one Bloody Sunday of bashed skulls jailings
Dr King’s call to clergy from every region
thousands swarmed to Selma to join the march
two more martyrs northerners white
Viola Liuzzo and Reverend Jim Reeb
three marches started just one got through
before the nation began to squirm
before the tide began to turn
for 80-year old Cager to cast a vote

Copyright © Molly Watt, 2008, all rights reserverd.

If students have time, they’re encouraged to check out Congressman John Lewis’ Instagram.




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