It’s Cover Reveal Saturday … and today we’re getting a sneak peek at the cover for Kids on the March (Algonquin), by Michael G. Long.
Seriously, I’m such a fan of this subject, I can’t even with the suspense. I’m going to reveal this cover right now…
Just kidding. The real reveal is coming shortly, I promise. But I couldn’t resist having a little fun with the fabulous app Mindy Alyse Weiss showed me, the Blur Photo app. Good, right?
But before we see the real thing, we’ve got some goodies. An excerpt from Kids on the March, followed by a quick interview with author Michael G. Long.
Kids on the March Excerpt:
“Today, we march, we fight, we roar!”
Delaney Tarr, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, spoke those powerful words at the student-led March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2018.
“We know what we want, we know how to get it, and we are not waiting any longer!” she declared. The crowd thundered its support.
Many of the marchers on that chilly spring day were elementary, middle, and high school students from across the country. Called together by the Parkland students, they had gathered at the nation’s capital to protest for gun control legislation.
As Tarr continued her speech, countless kids raised their protest signs high: what do you like more, guns or kids?; protest guns, not kids; and #enough is enough!
A short while later, Yolanda Renee King, the nine-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, also spoke. She said, “I have a dream that enough is enough and that this world should be a gun-free world, period!”
Marchers who had studied her grandfather in history class probably recognized that her words echoed Dr. King’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” which he gave to 250,000 protestors at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
When we think of protests in US history, we often call to mind Dr. King and his adult colleagues. But do you know that many participants in the 1963 March on Washington were kids? Do you know, too, that several months before the March on Washington, thousands of young Black people marched against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama? Do you know that this was not the first time in US history that kids marched for justice?
Sixty years earlier, in 1903, child laborers marched from Philadelphia to New York to protest the dangerous working conditions in textile mills.
Even this early march was not the first of its kind.
Young people have led or participated in numerous marches throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Whether they led or followed, the kids in these historic marches were tough, bold, and brave. Some of these marches occurred in the face of violence, and others in relative safety, but all of them required courage.
The marches in which kids have participated are all deeply connected. They have sought to establish peace, justice, and freedom for all. Each has attempted to fulfill the civil rights identified in the US Constitution. Each has tried to hold the nation accountable to the beliefs and principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
As leaders and participants, kids have fought on the front lines of virtually every important march for first-class citizenship throughout US history. When democracy was threatened, kids were there. When people on the margins needed a voice of protest, kids were there. In some cases, kids were there, marching and chanting, long before adults even thought about protesting.
You, too, can march. If you don’t like a law that causes suffering, or if you would like a new policy that could help create a better world, you, like the kids in this book, can stand up. You can straighten your shoulders. You can throw back your chin. And you can shout what young people have been shouting for decades: “Let’s march!”
Interview with Kids on the March Author Michael G. Long
MUF: What’s your favorite element of the cover design?
Take a close look at the faces of the young activists, and you’ll see my favorite part of the cover: that beautiful display of pure passion in their fight for peace with justice. The image comes from a photograph taken at the historic March for Our Lives, a nonviolent protest against gun violence in our schools. Although I still get sad, and angry, about the event that fueled this protest—a horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida—I also get chills when I look at the faces of the young people who stood up when adults failed them and organized their very own international protest for safe schools. What passion and power! It’s so inspiring for me to see kids standing up, speaking out, and protesting for other kids. I love that.
MUF: Did you do any political organizing as a child?
As a kid, I was not a political organizer. But when I was about ten years old, I sat at my family’s dining room table and wrote the Pennsylvania governor a letter expressing my opposition to the death penalty. That was probably the first time I protested for an issue I cared about so deeply. There wasn’t anything dramatic about it; it was just a simple act of using a pencil, lined white paper, and a stamped envelope. But that small act was a way for me to share my voice, and it set the stage for my later participation in numerous sit-ins, marches, and rallies for social justice. By the way, the governor sent me a reply, and I recall how thrilled I was that he’d heard my youthful voice and respected it enough to correspond with a kid who couldn’t vote at the time. I’ll never forget that.
MUF: Any personal reflections on youth activism?
Writing Kids on the March is my way of protesting the unfortunate exclusion of youth activism from our books and classes on US history. As a young student, I read history books that were organized by wars and presidents. Where were all the kids? Well, I later discovered that all the kids missing from my history books were helping to lead, organize, and support virtually every social movement that has secured and advanced the basic human rights we now enjoy. Kids have been at the vanguard of almost every social justice movement in US history. Today, my personal heroes aren’t US presidents or military generals; they’re the kids in this book, young people who care so deeply that they feel compelled to stand up, speak out, and protest for the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. They’re leading us through the chaos of this new century, and I’m delighted to play a supporting role by sharing their voices.
((Like reading about socially conscious kids and political activism? See our booklist here.))
The Real Reveal
Okay … now I know your appetite is whetted, and you’re ready for the real reveal … drum roll, please!
Kids on the March will be available in spring of 2021.
About Michael G. Long
Michael G. Long is the author and editor of many books on civil rights, peaceful protest, and politics. Kids on the March is his first book for younger readers.