Nonfiction picture book tells the story of a civil rights demonstration through the eyes of a real-life child activist
Ohio Humanities and Daydreamers Press announce the release of Step by Step: How the Lincoln School Marchers Blazed a Trail to Justice, a new nonfiction picture book for young readers. Written by New York Times bestselling author Debbie Rigaud and Carlotta Penn and illustrated by Nysha Lilly, the book tells the true story of one of the longest sustained demonstrations of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a real-life child marcher.
Following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Black mothers in Hillsboro, Ohio, attempted to enroll their children at the all-white Webster Elementary School. However, the local school board refused the call for integration. Demanding equal education, a group of Black mothers and children marched to and from Webster daily until Black students were admitted. As the march continued for two years, the group—aided by NAACP lawyers Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley—filed a lawsuit that would become one of the first national test cases of the Brown decision. Step by Step tells this story from the perspective of 12-year-old Joyce Clemons, now 81, one of the women who marched for integration as a child.
“Many of the Lincoln School students who marched are still alive today. As elementary school students, these brave individuals became activists, even if they didn’t realize it at the time,” said Ohio Humanities Executive Director Rebecca Brown Asmo. “Ohio Humanities is proud to partner with Daydreamers Press to ensure that this story is not forgotten. By following in Joyce’s footsteps, today’s young readers will see how brave mothers and students just like them changed the course of history.”
Author Debbie Rigaud and coauthor Carlotta Penn thoughtfully capture the voice of a young activist and emphasize the power of Black mothers’ leadership. Nysha Lilly’s expressive illustrations, with historical primary sources interspersed throughout, immerse readers in the Lincoln School Marchers’ fight. Rigaud and Penn simultaneously convey the challenges the marchers faced with the uplifting joy of a united community, encouraging readers to “keep on marching” for justice.
A collaboration between Ohio nonprofit organization Ohio Humanities, Daydreamers Press, and a small group of students who resolved to share their story with the world, Step by Step is available to booksellers through Daydreamers Press and Ingram Content Group. For individual purchase and more information, visit ohiohumanities.org/stepbystep.
Ohio Humanities is a statewide nonprofit that shares stories to spark conversations and inspire ideas by hosting programs and awarding grants that support storytellers statewide, from museums to journalists to documentary filmmakers. For more information, visit ohiohumanities.org.
Daydreamers Press is a Black woman owned children’s book publisher in Columbus, Ohio, with a focus on telling stories of multicultural communities for children through books and other media. For more information, visit daydreamerspress.com.
Kiley Kinnard, Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org