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  • Without Separation Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez

Without Separation Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez

without separation larry dane brimner

The power of one small voice.....

We all know how great Christmas vacation is...those days off are magical.  Every year we can't wait for them to come.  But then, the day comes after Christmas vacation - that first day when you have to go back to school - not such a great day for everyone... but it was a great day for 12-year old Roberto Alvarez.

In 1931 in California Roberto Alvarez was excited to go back to school after Christmas vacation. On January 5, 1931, he walked proudly down to Lemon Grove Grammar School, a modern five-room stucco building just east of San Diego, California.  But when Roberto got to the front of the school, the principal told him and told all of the Mexican-American students standing there that they could not come into their school.   They did not belong there.  They belonged in the school for Mexican children down on Olive Street.

Can you imagine having your principal tell you you couldn't enter your school?  Can you imagine being turned away and told you were different?

What did Roberto do?  Did he obey the principal?  Would you?

Being turned away from school was the catalyst for the court case that Roberto... a 12-year old child...brought against the board of trustees of the Lemon Grove School District.  He was one small voice.   The case asked that the school district stop discriminating against the Mexican American students and the Mexican students.  That's right - Roberto was an American citizen and he was being told he could not attend the school in his own district.

Courage, self respect, and a desire to get a good education drove Roberto Alvarez to stand up for his rights and for the rights of the other children who were like him.  He decided to take a huge risk and to challenge the status quo.

It's so important that our children know the history, the stories of the individuals who came before them, so they can walk in the shoes of others and feel what it would be like to be told not to enter the school building in their own community and so they can feel what it would be like to be judged not as a human being but as someone different simply because of their skin color or the language they had been taught from birth, the family they were born to.

This is a powerful story of bravery, determination and of people who valued education and were willing to fight for it.  Turn these pages and look into the eyes of the families who had the grit to ask to be treated fairly.  The gorgeous illustrations have resonate with strength and hold echoes of generations upon generations of families who have sought to raise their children well and give them the best future possible.

What happened when Roberto Alvarez handed his lawsuit to the judge?  Here is a tremendous opportunity for our children to experience the history of prejudice in our country and understand the small revolutions that have been fought by family after family asking and demanding to be treated as equal human beings.  Fairness and social justice aren't just words on paper.  Meet Roberto and walk with him for 40 pages.  What if that was happening to you?

One small voice.....

40 pages                              9781684371952                         Ages 7-10

Keywords:  education, social justice, diversity, diverse books, Latino, Latina, Latinx, courage, social issues, finding your voice, grit, determination, law, prejudice, discrimination, separation, social conditions, social activist,  Social Studies Curriculum, 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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