Help me give my students the gift of social agency through exposure to knowledge of social justice issues as presented by Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice.
One day, as we were reading an informational text about the Women's Marches in 2016, a student asked me if I went. I responded that I was in attendance, and the student followed up with another question, "Ms. Morris, did you get to speak?" I laughed and said no, unfortunately speaking was reserved for leaders of organizations and politicians. The student said "Oh." He looked back at me and asked a question that I have been turning over in my mind every day since, "Ms. Morris, what would you have said if you could have spoken?" I had never thought about that part. My students challenge me and themselves each day in the classroom and out of it as well.
My students are the reason I leave school every day feeling so uplifted and excited to come back.
They are excited about learning and are budding critical thinkers. Each one of them has a uniquely charming personality that shines through their work and their actions. Eighth graders are special people, and my students are far and above simply special; they are current leaders and future catalysts of change in their communities.
This project will be a close reading of a non-fictional text with the goals of strengthening analytical skills, speaking, listening, and writing skills, and increasing awareness of the current social justice issues which pervade Alabama Black Belt communities.
I chose this book because Stevenson presents a captivating narrative of the social and legal climate for African American citizens living in Alabama as well as across the nation.
I feel that reading this book will benefit my students as it will challenge their empathy skills as well as emphasize critical thinking about specific community building strategies. Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice guides students on a path of understanding the realities that lie before them while simultaneously motivating them to alter those realities to be more equitable for every person regardless of background, skin color, or education.
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