Oct 232019
Words Matter: Children’s Books to Explain the True Meaning of Lynching

We try not to be too political here because we want to encourage conversation and ensure that all feel welcome, even if not entirely comfortable. 

But if we’re going to have conversations, then we have to agree that words matter. We live in an age of rapidly changing language where words lose their original meaning and even their original tense: on boarding, ghosting, gaslighting. However, some words must retain their original meaning to name what are unspeakable horrors. One of those words is “lynching”. 

When someone with the bully pulpit of the Presidency equates an inquiry into his actions with “lynching” and members of the United States Senate support that word use, we feel compelled to offer a counterpoint. 

If you want to share with your children a story that tenderly touches on the aftermath of lynching decades later in the deceased’s survivors, check out Zetta Elliott’s Billie’s Blues. The picture book Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and Power of a Protest Song by Gary Golio, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb, tells the creation story of this incredibly powerful song about lynching. And for adults, a quick read about lynching (37 pages) is Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by the peerless Ida B. Wells. There are pictures of lynchings in the back of Southern Horrors that make abundantly clear the true horrors of lynching.

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