Editor’s Note: Dr. Kathy Leo-Nyquist retired from Champlain College at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. She wrote the following in late autumn 2021 and shared it with us when we were creating our post on DEI-and-teaching reading recommendations. Kathy kindly granted permission for us to edit this piece as a standalone blog post. It has been lightly edited.
In the last few years, I have been upping my knowledge and collecting resources to support my learning (and that of my students) in the areas of social justice pedagogy, anti-racist teaching, and especially children’s and young adult literature. My goal is to support difficult conversations using the vehicle of literature. I had the excellent experience of attending the 2021 National Council of Teachers of English Convention (an organization that puts out incredible journals and workshops), titled “Equity, Justice, and Anti-Racist Teaching.” I also attended the two-day Assembly of Young Adult Literature post-convention event, which was smaller and more intimate. I was in virtual rooms with some of my favorite authors and educators.
I’m riding high on the energy of these educators, authors, and public intellectuals, who are working to move the needle around equity, justice, and anti-racism with young people! We all have so much to learn as we dig deeper into this work. What a cast of characters:
- Michelle Obama (who attended as keynote plugging her Becoming: Adapted for Young People)
- George Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue)
- Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad, etc)
- Nikole Hannah-Jones (The 1619 Project), who also co-wrote an AMAZING picture book with Renee Watson and Nikkolas Smith (Born on the Water)
- Brendan Kiely and his newest book: The Other Talk: Reckoning with White Privilege (who co-wrote All American Boys with…
- Jason Reynolds (who also co-wrote children’s and YA versions of STAMPED with Ibram Kendi)
- Ilayasah Shabazz (Awakening of Malcom, etc.)
- Kekla Magoon (Revolution in our Time: The Black Panthers’ Promise to the People), who teaches at VCFA in MFA program
…and so on and on!
To share the words of just one of the inspiring speakers: