Kwanzaa and Me: A Teacher’s Story


Kwanzaa is often defined as “a secular festival observed by many African Americans from December 26 to January 1 as a celebration of their cultural heritage and traditional values.” Although acknowledged mostly in December, Kwanzaa carries a message that can be celebrated and honored all year long. Themes of creativity, unity, and love are expressed in the tradition. Kwanzaa teaches it’s participants to love all people, and to celebrate diversity, just as Kwanzaa and Me does.

“All these white schools I’ve been sent to are racist,“ Sonya says. “I’d have done better in a black school. I was an outsider here.” These are hard words for Vivian Paley, whose own kindergarten was one of Sonya’s schools, the integrated classroom so lovingly and hopefully depicted by Paley in White Teacher. Confronted with the grown-up Sonya, now on her way to a black college, and with a chorus of voices questioning the fairness and effectiveness of integrated education, Paley sets out to discover the truth about the multicultural classroom from those who participate in it.“ Vivian Paley offers these discoveries to readers as a starting point for their own journeys toward community and kinship in today’s schools and tomorrow’s culture.

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