Last year, What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book by Laleña Garcia and illustrated by Cary Davidson was published. The book aims to teach young children about the guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement as adapted by the Black Lives Matter at NYC Steering Committee. In the book, there are different activities that children can do and pages they can color. On January 20, 2021, I attended a webinar hosted by Lee and Low Books called Black Lives Matter in the Classroom: A Conversation With Experts, where Garcia and Davidson spoke about their book and how the principles of Black Lives Matter can be applied in the classroom.
First, they mentioned how it is important for teachers to establish community norms. This involves having open conversations about race with students. Then, students should be introduced to the concept of Black Lives Matter, including how the movement started and the principles that have guided it. After the principles are discussed, students should color the corresponding pages in the What We Believe activity book. Davidson was inspired by her friends and activists while designing the coloring pages and wanted to show how following the principles of Black Lives Matter can create the world we wish to see. Teachers must remind their students that the principles being covered relate to everyone in the classroom, not just the Black students. There are additional resources provided in the book that teachers can use to go more in depth about the meaning of each principle.
The last part of the webinar was about how teachers can engage with families about the principles being covered in their classrooms. For starters, teachers should let parents and caregivers know that social justice and identity will be discussed in class. Giving parents and caregivers resources on the principles being covered will help them understand why it matters. It will also better equip them to talk about and apply these principles at home.
If you would like to watch the webinar, click this link.