We were contacted by a freelance journalist, Cassandra Spratling, from the National Geographic digital family section. She asked:
"I read that "The Story of Ruby Bridges" is one of the books you deemed inappropriate for children. If that is so, please tell me your concern about it."
Below is the M4L response to this question. Perhaps it will help you frame your own answers to similar questions, as they will surely come, if you are not being asked already.
"We are not seeking to "ban" The Story of Ruby Bridges. However, we do feel that it is inappropriate for 2nd grade, especially in the way it is presented via the Wit & Wisdom Teachers Manual. See our "Let's Talk Wit & Wisdom" presentation from June 15th. Advance to slide 113 for an examination of Grade 2 Module 3, which includes that book.
When examining G2M3, one must really look at the entire module to understand our objections. The books by themselves are heavy enough. Marry that up with the teachers manual, and you have 9 weeks (34 lessons) on injustice. It literally starts the day they come back from the Christmas holidays and ends the day before they leave for spring break. Every day speaks of mean (oppressive) white people and victimized people of color. See our TN Dept of Education Complaint Letter, which outlines G2M3.
The MLK book shows a photo of firemen spraying black children. But did you also know that the teachers manual repeatedly tells the children to focus on this photo? Then it has a point of view exercise called "Different Voices" (see it here) which it graphically details harming the children, bruising their bodies, ripping their clothes off, and spraying them with a force that could take bark off trees. It makes no mention that this was a famous photo that led to real change in our country.
It has also been said to me repeatedly that "if this happened to a 6 year old, a 6 year old can learn about it." Of course, the fallacy of that argument is apparent. 6 year olds were exterminated in the Holocaust. 6 year olds have suffered sexual abuse. Does that mean these subjects and circumstances are suddenly age appropriate for all 6 year olds? Ruby Bridges suffered a traumatic experience at the hands of true racists in 1960. But do we need to make 6 year olds in 2021 role play about it? Do we need them to relive her experiences by writing multiple narratives from her point of view? Ruby Bridges herself has stated that she did not comprehend what was happening to her in 1960. Her innocent child mind equated the crowds of people to Mardi Gras, since that was what she was familiar with, living in New Orleans. In her own words as an adult: "I always say to people that it would be really really hard to explain to a 6 year old child what I was about to encounter going to school that day." If you want the audio file, I can text it to you (can't get it to attach to an email). Ruby Bridges herself seems to imply that this is not appropriate teaching for young children.
We encourage you to visit our library: https://www.mflwillco.org/curriculum
There you will find parent book reviews, teachers manual reviews, and the teachers manuals themselves, as well as many other resources. Please visit Instagram @dear_mr.golden to read parent accounts of what this does to children.
Please watch our EpochTV interview which covers much of this: https://www.theepochtimes.com/kids-are-being-propagandized-with-racism-under-critical-race-theory-interview-with-robin-steenman_3895000.html
We are 100% in favor of teaching history. Teach the tragedies, but also the triumphs. Teach the sins, but also the redemption. Teach ALL of it, and in an unbiased and balanced manner.
Wit & Wisdom chooses to focus on slivers of history where America has unquestionably failed to meet the ideals of "All men are created equal." But it fails to mention that the founding documents that state as much are the ones that paved the way for civil rights. It fails to mention the incredible progress this country has made since then. It speaks nothing of our black Supreme Court justices, 44th President, First Lady, entertainment icons, music legends, sports legends, etc. It makes no mention that because of the founding ideals and the civil rights movement, that America is the freest country in the world.
"The Story of Ruby Bridges" by Robert Coles leaves the child firmly in 1960. It's last page shows Ruby praying to God to forgive the [white] mob because "they don't know what they're doing. So You could forgive them, just like You did those folks a long time ago when they said terrible things about You." Without mentioning the Bible, it is a direct quote of Luke 23:24 in which Jesus prays on the cross for those who crucified him "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing." Any child who has been taught the Bible will make the connection between white people and those responsible for the crucifixion. What a heavy note to end on. A child of 7 years old is not going to understand the context of this story in the larger view of history. They are left standing in 1960, role playing and writing narratives about the white mob who wanted to kill a black child.
Children truly internalize what they are taught. If only the bad and none of the good is presented, no wonder we have kids that are suddenly ashamed of their skin color, feel oppressed due to their skin color, and want nothing to do with their country. The ideology and agenda of Wit and Wisdom is unmistakeable."
-Robin Steenman, Chair of Moms for Liberty