'Call And Response: The Story Of Black Lives Matter' Aims To Keep The Conversations About The Power Of Protest Going
In 2020, we all watched history being made in streets all across America and the globe as the Black Lives Matter movement brought thousands of people of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds together to stand up for social reform.
What first started as a hashtag in 2013 grew into a movement that’s a testament to the power of protests in America — and lead author Veronica Chambers along with Jennifer Harlan wanted to break it all down to teach young readers about it in their new book, Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter.
The book uses photographs, quotes and informative text to look at how a moment became a movement over the last eight years — starting with looking at how Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi first came together to start Black Lives Matter.
Because this book is for young readers and their parents, teachers, and librarians, Chambers felt it was important to take a step back and look at the activist's early lives.
"It was just interesting to see how these three really disparate girls growing up in different parts of the country kind of come together from like student activism to grown-up activism, and what started as a hashtag became a movement," she says.
The Black Lives Matter protests hit their peak in the United States on June 6, 2020, when close to half a million people rallied in 550 locations in once day, Chambers explains. As a journalist, this moment had her asking, "How did so many people come to this moment where they literally took to the streets around this issue, and a really diverse group?" she notes.
That lead her to a bigger question — why do people protest and why does it matter?
"One of the things that I found out in researching the book is that between 1900 and 2016 over 50% of peaceful protests have had significant change in government. It has become the mode of change ... and so I wanted to contextualize for people that this is really like part of a long history in America of peaceful protests coming together to make meaningful change," Chambers explains.
Chambers not only wanted to contextualize this modern movement, but use it as a way to show young readers what protest is, why it matters and how they can use your voice for whatever cause they believe in — no matter how old they are.
From citizen journalism, photojournalism, murals, music, defining and addressing systemic racism to bake sales for Black Lives Matter, Chambers says showing the many ways people can protest was key. "We wanted to create a document that would keep the conversations going, and that's partly why we call the book Call and Response," she says. " ... It's about a conversation, and what we really hope is that the book is a start of some really great conversations for people."