Sixty years ago, Reverend Gilbert Caldwell and his young bride Grace planned on staying in the Poconos for their honeymoon. They'd made reservations. Unfortunately, when they arrived, the staff would not honor their reservation, since the Caldwells were African American. The couple was told that if they were allowed to check in, the other guests would not be very happy.
Recently, the Caldwells spoke to a class of students (5th graders, I think) and were sharing what life was like during the Civil Rights era. They told the story about their honeymoon. The kids were outraged.
The children wrote letters, worked on their persuasive skills and were successful. Six decades after they said "I do," Gilbert and Grace got to have a free second honeymoon in the Poconos--this time in the resort that earlier had turned them away.
Writing can bring about justice in many ways.
- Self-healing--I recently met with a fellow teacher. Her father was an alcoholic. He died when his daughter was still young. She said she'd like to write a memoir but since she's still in her 20s, she felt like it was too soon.
I told her she does have a story to tell--now. I reminded her that others could be healed if they read
about how she coped and how she survived.
Finding forgiveness... Surely that's justice.
- Legal Justice Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder. While in prison, he wrote an autobiography, which was so inspiring, Bob Dylan wrote a song about him ("Hurricane"). Denzel Washington starred in a movie about Carter's time in prison. People protested, articles were written. Eventually, Rubin Carter was freed.
- Knowledge--Thankfully the Holocaust is over. Fortunately, the days of the Civil Rights era is no longer. No longer are there separate drinking fountains and Jim Crow laws... which means that children today know nothing of those worlds and those injustices.
uncover a world that's foreign to students today. Hopefully, armed with knowledge, the mistakes of
the past won't be repeated. Even more hopefully, the mistakes we're currently making will be
I've spoken to many people who come to book signings and say to one of my writing colleagues or myself things like, "Your story really moved me. It reminded me of my own life," and then they tell about one of their childhood or adult experiences. Every time, they're told, "Write down your story. My story resonated with you? Your story could make a difference with someone else."
And I'm saying it again. What's stopping you? It's never too early to get your story down.
Begin telling it now...
Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a freelance writer, a mother and grandmother along with being a dog rescuer. In the Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind (of) America, she has a story about Ferguson. It tells what the real Ferguson was like before and after Michael Brown was killed. If you'd like to read more of her work, you can check out her blog.