Sparks Street was abuzz with lively conversation and dialogue on Friday when three-time Coretta Scott King Honoree Kekla Magoon visited 8th-grade students to discuss her book: The Rock and the River. Set in Chicago in 1968, Magoon’s novel explores the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of a 13-year-old Black boy struggling with his identity and place in the world.
To frame the students’ reading of her novel Magoon began by telling her journey to become an author, citing a love of reading and desire for representation as a driving force in her future books. When getting ideas for her novels, she works with what she knows, like growing up as a biracial girl in America, and what she doesn’t know, like the true history of the Black Panthers in the 1960s.
Magoon penned The Rock and the River using the latter approach when she discovered the Black Panthers– the driving force in her book– have a richer history and purpose than she thought. From holding the police accountable to giving out complimentary breakfast to children, the story of the Civil Rights group is more profound than most people know.
While no one can go back in time and know exactly how they would act in historical moments, Magoon told students she does what she knows she can now–read, write, and teach others to make a better future.