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The United States has been boiling with violence and hate and while watching the news and social media can be hard for adults, hearing about and seeing what is going on can be very confusing, scary and devastating for children.

That is why we at WatchTheYard.com have created this list of children’s books that teach kids why people protest and why standing up for your beliefs and the lives of others is important. This list includes stories that teach kids about the power of their voice and the empathy that is needed to change the world into a better place.

We paid special attention when choosing these books to cover stories with strong male and female characters who come from multicultural backgrounds. We are currently looking for a Native American book to add to this list, if you know of any please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Please share this list with a parent or teacher and do your part in helping the world become a better place.

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On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience. Click here to buy it

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A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books. Click here to buy it

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It was February 1, 1960.
They didn’t need menus. Their order was simple.
A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.

This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirror the hope, strength, and determination that fueled the dreams of not only these four young men, but also countless others.
Click here to buy it

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Grandfather Gandhi is an absolutely beautiful book! The story is narrated by then-12 year old Gandhi’s grandson, Arun. Arun goes to live with his grandfather, which was considered a great honor. One day his grandfather gets angry, a surprise to Arun. Gandhi explains to his grandson that anger is a normal human emotion, that people must work to conquer and transform so that it can be used for a good purpose. This is a marvelous, must-read book that will encourage your kids to think about the role emotions play in the choices we make. Click here to buy it

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This story begins with shoes.
This story is all for true.
This story walks. And walks. And walks.
To the blues.
Rosa Parks took a stand by keeping her seat on the bus. When she was arrested for it, her supporters protested by refusing to ride. Soon a community of thousands was coming together to help one another get where they needed to go. Some started taxis, some rode bikes, but they all walked and walked.

With dogged feet. With dog-tired feet. With boycott feet. With boycott blues.

And, after 382 days of walking, they walked Jim Crow right out of town. . . .

Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney present a poignant, blues-infused tribute to the men and women of the Montgomery bus boycott, who refused to give up until they got justice. Click here to buy it

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Every day, thousands of farmworkers harvested the food that ended up on kitchen tables all over the country. But at the end of the day, when the workers sat down to eat, there were only beans on their own tables. Then Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez teamed up. Together they motivated the workers to fight for their rights and, in the process, changed history.

Award-winning author Monica Brown and acclaimed illustrator Joe Cepeda join together to create this stunning tribute to two of the most influential people of the twentieth century. Click here to buy it

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WINNER OF A CORETTA SCOTT KING HONOR AND THE JANE ADDAMS PEACE AWARD!

Each kindness makes the world a little better

This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down.

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.Click here to buy it

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Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future. Click here to buy it

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With his stunning watercolors — and text that resounds with universal truths, award-winning artist Jon J Muth has transformed a story by Tolstoy into a timeless fable for young readers.

What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo’s cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too. Click here to buy

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The inspiring, true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who stands up and speaks out for every child’s right to education. Though she and two of her schoolmates were targeted by a Taliban gunman, a life-threatening injury only strengthened her resolve. Malala spoke at the U.N. on her 16th birthday in 2013, nine months after she was shot. Author and journalist Karen Leggett Abouraya, author of Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books, brings Malala’s story to life for young readers. Malala’s story is more than a biography of a brave and outspoken teenager. It is a testament to the power of education to change the world for boys and girls everywhere. “Winner of the California Reading Association’s 2015 EUREKA! Honor Award” Click here to buy

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Activism

20 Powerful Quotes From the Legendary Dick Gregory

  1. I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.
  2. I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.
  3. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
  4. I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.
  5. Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.
  6. In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it’s a sport.
  7. Just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.
  8. When you have a good mother and no father, God kind of sits in. It’s not enough, but it helps.
  9. And we love to dance, especially that new one called the Civil War Twist. The Northern part of you stands still while the Southern part tries to secede.
  10. I wouldn’t mind paying taxes – if I knew they were going to a friendly country.
  11. Revolution ain’t nothing but an extent of evolution; Evolution is a fact of nature. So when old folks tell me that they don’t understand hip hop and the music is too loud, well I guess it means you’re not supposed to be in there.
  12. Because I’m a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn’t be a part of it.
  13. America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don’t misuse a household pet.
  14. I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.
  15. Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘that’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’
  16. When you’ve got something really good, you don’t have to force it on people. They will steal it!
  17. If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks to control you.
  18. I personally would say that the quickest way to wipe out a group of people is to put them on a soul food diet. One of the tragedies is that the very folks in the black community who are most sophisticated in terms of the political realities in this country are nonetheless advocates of “soul food.” They will lay down a heavy rap on genocide in America with regard to black folks, then walk into a soul food restaurant and help the genocide along.
  19. The only good thing about the good old days is they’re gone.
  20. If democracy is such a good thing, let’s have more of it.

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Activism

How Kappa Alpha Psi Helped Stop Richard Spencer’s White Nationalist Group From Speaking at Michigan State

A SPLC listed white nationalist group by the name of The National Policy Institute requested to reserve space for a speaker at Michigan State University and the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi were not having it.

On Wednesday, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon released a statement saying The National Policy Institute wants to have a speaker on campus, and that MSU was “reviewing the request closely in light of the deplorable violence in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend.

While the statement didn’t say who the group wanted to have speak, the Lansing State Journal notes that Richard Spencer, the high-profile white supremacist who has advocated for a white homeland for a “dispossessed white race” and called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture, is president and director of the The National Policy Institute.

The brothers of the Northern Province and specifically the Delta Pi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi issued a letter to the Michigan State University President urging her to deny The National Policy Institute’s request.

“We urge you in the strongest terms to DENY the request for the white nationalist group to speak on our beloved campus. We recognize that Michigan State University is a public institution and that “free speech” is a right of all Americans. However, after the most recent incidents at the University of Virginia, the saftey of our students, faculty and staff are far more important. We also must realize that “free speech” must be responsible. Spreading a message of hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism is not healthy for the campus of Michigan State University, nor our country, nor our world.”

They followed by stating that the Kappas would be there in numbers to support the university president’s denial of the request.

“We are proud to be holding our annual leadership conference September 15-16, 2017 at the James B. Henry Center for Executive Development on your campus. We will have over 200 Kappa Men from Michigan, N.W. Ohio and Western NY visiting the campus on that weekend. Please know that the more than 5,000 members of the Northern Province of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. are ready to stand with you and support you in denying this request.”

Other groups around campus and the community also issued their concern and this was part of a huge local outcry.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the university said it denied the request.

“This decision was made due to significant concerns about public safety in the wake of the tragic violence in Charlottesville last weekend,” the statement said. “While we remain firm in our commitment to freedom of expression, our first obligation is to the safety and security of our students and our community.”

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend these Kappas on standing up and speaking out. We believe that this letter can be used as an example for all D9 undergrad and graduate chapters when concerned about white supremacist at their schools or in their communities.

Read the full letter below:

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Activism

Alpha Phi Alpha Lawmaker Files Legislation to Remove All Confederate Monuments From Florida Public Property

Photo Credit: twitter.com/ShevrinJones

Florida Representative Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. says he will file legislation to immediately remove all Confederate statues, signs and names from public property in Florida.

“William Faulkner once stated that ‘The past is never dead,’ but I’m here to tell you that it can damn well be buried,” the 33-year-old lawmaker said in a statement that he released this week.

“Rather than being held up as figures of celebration, it is past time we relegate these symbols of oppression and bigotry to the halls of museums where their proper context can be articulated. As one of the most proudly diverse states in our nation, Florida needs to show our citizens that we value everyone equally and will not be divided by the voices of bigotry and racism. Let’s move forward, not continue to look back, ” he stated.

While removing all of the Confederate statues, signs, and names from public property in Florida seems like a mammoth task.  Jones has succeeded at doing this on a smaller scale by being part of the successful fight to rename three streets in Hollywood, Florida, that were named after Confederate generals, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Gen. John B. Hood, a division commander at the Battle of Antietam, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general said to be the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

According to the statement he released, the vote will take place on August 30th.

Rep. Jones is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 101st District, which includes southeastern Broward County. Rep. Jones is a graduate of Florida A&M University and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

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