Emily Brush, the project coordinator of the Making Invisible Histories Visible program, approached me about an exciting iBook curriculum project for 4th graders that she was heading up for Omaha Public Schools.
The iBooks were to focus on Omaha and Nebraska history as it relates to African American history. Each book would be written by an Omaha author, illustrated by a local artist, and completed with resources and teaching aids by an OPS teacher.
I consulted Emily on the best process for bringing writers, artists and teachers together to create the curriculum. I also authored one of the eight books within the series.
I had never written to the 4th grade audience, so this was an fun and challenging assignment. I wrote the story of “Notable Nebraskans” in close collaboration with our team teacher and illustrator—and lots of great research and direction from a local historian.
At the end of the Civil War, slavery was outlawed in the United States. But even though slavery was over, racism was still a big problem. Blacks were often treated unfairly by whites. They were not allowed to live in white neighborhoods. They were not hired as police officers, teachers or journalists in white communities. Instead, most African Americans—even those who had college degrees—worked as maids, waiters, or factory workers. They often worked long hours for very low pay. Some whites were even violent toward blacks. It was like this all over America, even in Nebraska.
Many people, both black and white, began to protest the injustices committed against blacks. These freedom fighters were called civil rights activists. They worked together for change and asked for new laws to protect black citizens. They never gave up their dream of a world where everyone was treated equally. Their achievements opened doors for others to live their own dreams.
Whitney Young and Malcolm X were two Nebraskans who fought for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. They met a lot of resistance, but they never gave up. By persevering, they helped the United States to become a country where African Americans could be proud to be black, have good jobs, live in safety and be treated equally under the law.
My role: Author & Creative Consultant