Step by Step

Step by Step: How the Lincoln School Marchers Blazed a Trail to Justice, the new children’s book from Ohio Humanities and Daydreamers Press, tells the story of one of the longest sustained demonstrations of the civil rights movement from the eyes of a real-life child marcher.


Step by Step is written by New York Times bestselling author Debbie Rigaud and Carlotta Penn and illustrated by Nysha Lilly.

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. In sharing this story, Joyce and the other marchers hope to inspire others to remember their mothers and continue the work they started. Their commitment to keeping the story of the march—and their mothers—alive reminds us of the importance of education and of how recent the civil rights movement is in our past.

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.

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Learn about the story behind the book


Carlotta Penn is the Founder of Daydreamers Press—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.

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