I was born too late for the 60's but I've always been fascinated by that decade. I appreciate all the history of that time, I enjoy the music from the era, and most of all I'm inspired by the idea that people could raise up their voices and change the world.
I'd like to think that if I were around back then, I would have gone to demonstrations and added my voice to the call for, "No War!" but the biggest protest I got caught up in during college was a rally against increased bus fares. We gathered, shouted, and chanted, and at one point the crowd stormed the university's administration building. It was all very exciting, but we probably could have found more important causes.
During the Gulf War of the early 90's, I drove around my hometown in a red VW bug with a hand-lettered "No War" sign taped to the rear window. I'm not sure how many opinions I changed, but it prompted a debate with my Civics teacher and a complaint from a customer at the grocery store where I worked. I did have a habit of parking my car where everyone could see it...
When I first started outlining the story for Miss E., it was a given for me that historical fiction taking place during the Vietnam War would include hippies, peace signs, and anti-war demonstrations. The protest in San Francisco that Bets gets tangled up in was a chapter that I began mentally writing very early in my planning process, and when it finally came time to write it for real, it was done in one sitting with an excitement and energy that I hope comes through in the book.
While Bets's experience in San Francisco is a turning point in the story, it's the smaller protests that are more important to her evolution as a character. They show, first her strength to stand up on her own in spite of disinterest or opposition from her peers, and then her ability to organize and inspire others to join her cause.
We’re seeing this today. While the large marches and gatherings are exciting, what’s even more inspiring is that many of these events were started by a single person, one tweet, or a Facebook post.. Social media now gives us the ability to connect, share, and organize at a speed and to a degree unimaginable in the 60’s.
With recent events, many people are feeling the same urgent need to be heard that was felt during the Vietnam War. The ease at which we can connect with each other online, coupled with creativity, determination, and a desire to improve our country and our world, will likely create a movement that will find its way into the history books… or at the very least, some young adult historical fiction.
March in San Francisco - April 15, 1967
Click Here to open a preview copy of the chapter "Fire" from Miss E. or download the file below to add to your eReader.
Check out Bets's experience in San Francisco when a peaceful protest spins out of control.
Washington, DC - January 21,2017
Rally against nomination of Betsy DeVos
Washington, DC - January 29, 2017
If you're interested in lesson ideas for Miss E. that make a connection to protests, organizing, social media, and current events, you can access lessons and activities by clicking the button below.
Peace Signs and Shaking Fists