February Activities

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.

Freedom Summer is set in the South around the time of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   The story takes its name from the group of Mississippi civil rights workers who, in 1964, organized a movement to register Black Americans.  It focuses on two young best friends, Joe and John Henry…one who is White and one who is Black.  It is the summertime and the new Civil Rights legislation means that the town public pool is now open to everyone regardless of the color of their skin.  The boys are so excited to be able to swim together in the deep end of the pool with its clear blue water…but…will they be able to?!!!!

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and Jerome Lagarrigue

Idea #1

Freedom Summer takes place in the South 50 years ago.  This was a time when many Americans experienced prejudice because of the color of their skin.  Joe and John Henry were very much alike except for the color of their skin.  The author tells us that this story grew out of her feelings surrounding this time in history.  She says, “I dreamed of changing things, and yet I wondered what any child – black or white – could do.” 

Do you think young children can make a difference in the world?  Be prepared to support your answer.  Can you think of a way/ways you might make a difference in your world?

Idea #2

At dinner Joe’s dad tells the family, “The town pool opens tomorrow to everyone under the sun, no matter what color.”  “That’s the new law,” his mother continues.  Rather than break the law, some town people order the swim club to be closed and the pool filled in with asphalt. 

Do you think this was a good solution for the people who did not want to allow everyone – no matter what color – to swim in the town pool?  Be prepared to support your answer. 

Can you think of another way the town might have handled the new law without closing the town pool so that no one could swim there?

Idea #3

At the National Constitution Center, February is the month to celebrate American Presidents and African American trailblazers.  A trailblazer is a person who makes, does or discovers something new and makes it acceptable.  Do you think John Henry, with his friend Joe’s support, was about to do something new and try to make it acceptable?  Be prepared to support your answer. 

Would you like to be considered a trailblazer?  In what area?