What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Activity Book is a collaboration between Laleña Garcia, who identifies as Black, and Caryn Davidson, who identifies as white. After learning author Laleña Garcia’s story behind What We Believe, we asked the author and illustrator to share a bit about their partnership, and how they define the role of activist and ally.
How do you define activism?
Laleña Garcia: In my school, we talk about activists as people who work together with other people to make the world a better place. We emphasize the importance of collective action and solidarity, and that, even though we sometimes learn about one or two people — like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks — they had to work together with lots of other people to make change.
There’s a part of me that thinks that individual actions — like turning off the lights, recycling, or choosing to buy from BIPOC-owned businesses — is part of being a good, decent, human, but is maybe a little bit different from being an activist, but it’s not something I’m willing to have a fight about. If you’re organizing other people to do those things, or writing letters to people in power to get them to make changes, then I think it’s more like activism, because of the collective nature.
Athletes have the power and ability to inspire social action, even though they may face criticism that their work should be “left on the field.” Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began #takeaknee by kneeling for the national anthem during an NFL football game in 2017. When people questioned him about his intentions, he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a country that oppresses black people and people of color…”.
Given the current conversation surrounding the role of athletes in regards to politics, some people question whether athletes should be able to voice their opinions on certain matters. But what many people don’t know is that athletes have always been prominent activists whether on the field or off. From Louis Sockalexis to Jim Thorpe, we’re highlighting seven activist athletes who stood up for what they believed in to make the world a better place.
This week marks the release of Martí’s Song for Freedom/ Martí y sus versos por la libertad, our new bilingual picture book biography of the Cuban revolutionary and poet José Martí. In celebration, we’ve pulled together a list of five of our favorite picture book biographies about revolutionary figures who started movements. Use these award-winning books to teach about social activism, core values like perseverance and grit, and the importance of art and science in our society!