It has been 47 years since the historic riots of Newark, New Jersey erupted on the streets during racially tense moments in our country’s history. Sadly, just a month passed the anniversary of one of the city’s most defining moments, we find ourselves tuned into televions watching riots on the news that almost mirror incidents that caused violent protests nearly a half century ago.
If the shooting of Michael Brown, a college-bound teen killed at the hands of the city’s police is a topic that’s on your radar, you probably find it hard to avoid discussions among friends and family. However, if you’re a parent you may find it even more difficult to engage the many questions of your children.
“During the summer of 1967, I lived on the corner of South 20th Street and Clinton Avenue,” Author, KP Carter said. “It’s one of the last streets in Newark before Irvington.”
“There are two vivid memories I have from that time. One is seeing barbed wire stretched across Clinton Avenue. No one could leave or enter. The other was seeing armed National Guardsmen – with rifles across their shoulders, walking down South 20th Street. Those were extremely fearful sites for a young girl,” she said.
Although the incidents she delved into are based on real events, the book is a true children’s story that seeks to entertain young readers.
“Originally, the story did not include the Newark riots,” she said. “After writing the initial draft and trying to perfect it over time, I felt there was something missing.”
“The notion to include the riots came to me when I was looking for ways to add more of a historical perspective to the story.”
As an educator in the urban school setting with over 25 years experience, she couldn’t help but to incorporate elements that teachers and students would be able to benefit from while yeilding to this creative process.
She’s clear in her mission to have her readers who are growing up in a fast-paced and growing digital age to imagine the simple values of a childhood she clearly remembers.
“Young readers are often excited to hear about life ‘back in the day’ and when prompted can see many similarities between today and back then,” she said. “Many of them have never heard of playing jacks or using a skate key to tighten up their skates. Additionally, parents and grandparents in the audience reminisce about their childhood experiences.”
For children reading this book, they may be inclined to imagine what the young people are experiencing in the violent chaos outside of St. Louis. As the questions unfold, parents can guide the process for their questioning.
“There was a lot of confusion about what was actually happening during the time of the riots,” Carter said. “Although Lizzie and her friends didn’t have all the facts, they did their best to make sense of everything.”
To purchase “Summertime with Lizzie B. Hayes” and learn about the author, visit her website.
“The story has been with me for a long time,” KP said. “When my adult sons were little boys, I always wanted to share stories with them that had characters they could relate to and looked like them. There were so few at the time that I decided to write one for them.”
If you would like to get a signed copy of KP Carter’s book, she will be reading at the Learning by Experience Enrichment Initiative in Peddie Memorial Baptist Church at 572 Broad Street, Newark, NJ on Saturday, August 16 at 11 a.m.