Teresa Rollins

Our school district has banned books on the Black experience. So, we did a Zoom session with veterans and their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and shared from the Half American’s specific parts that spoke to them or that they experienced in real life. We had conversations so that all could learn from the book and from actual life experiences of the adult to middle/high school participants.

Some of the high schoolers were considering going into the service and felt enlightened about the racism that persisted and the determination of the veterans in the story, as well as the determination of their relatives who shared that they too lived during this time period. It was a living history lesson on both levels, via the book and via accounts shared by veteran relatives.

The challenge going forward is to think of ways to persist under hardship or crisis and find ways to reinvent the self under these conditions with dignity and honor. The students were to make a dream board of a story chosen from the book, use them as a mentor for their future, and pick pictures and words or quotes that would continue to inspire them.