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During the Pandemic, my-then-three-year old had trouble falling asleep in his bed. So we started taking walks every night in his stroller to put him to sleep.
One night he asked me about a portrait of Nelson Mandela that we have on our wall. I told him it belonged to his grandmother, who like Nelson, fought against a terrible thing called "Apartheid" in South Africa.
Then he said, "tell me the story of Nelson Mandela," and we made it up as we walked. He asked me to recite this story every night after that for more than a year.
This book is the result.
(Now we just need an artist.)
Nelson Mandela lived in a land
Where people with different skin color
Couldn’t hold hands
Or go to the same schools
Or swim in the same pools
Or do other stuff together
That would have been cool
A terrible rule they called “Apartheid”
Put people of color on the very far side
Of anything good or anything right
And it made it scary to get through the night
But Nelson Mandela stood up and said “NO”!
This terrible Apartheid and separation must go.
People are people of any color skin
What makes a person is what is within
Be the change in the world that you want to see
And together we can help all people be free
So he fought and he fought
But then he got caught
They put him in jail
But he couldn’t be bought
He hooted, he hollered, he kept on fightin’
Eventually the world saw Apartheid needed rightin’
So they got behind Nelson and heeded the call
And he united the country with freedom for all
That’s how it happened
And that’s how it went
That Nelson Mandela became
South Africa’s first black president
He lived to the ripe old age of 95
And died a hero who touched so many lives.
My son looked at me with pride in his eyes
And said “I am black people” which made me surprised
For his skin was not black (it was whiter than mine)
I went to correct him, but then realized
His innocent words were really quite wise
Nelson Mandela fought to end Apartheid
So the color of skin would no long divide
And it's up to each of us to decide
That what really matters is what is inside.
I tell stories.
This children's book started as just a story/poem I told my 3-year old every night for 1-year on our bedtime walks during the Pandemic. We now want to find an artist to work with and publish it. Here's the story that came from trying to teach my kid about racism, while learning how easily bad ideas can spread.
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