Yesha Callahan

Minnesota Professor Authors “Black Lives Matter” Textbook For Middle School & High School Students

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A young college professor is lending her expertise to the Black Lives Matter movement in a huge way.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has served as the voice of the African-American community over the past two years in the wake of continued police brutality against Black people and now a new textbook is ensuring that the adolescents of today will be well-educated on all that went on for years to come.

Macalester University professor Duchess Harris has teamed up with a group of women to pen the publication, aimed at teaching kids of all races about the Black Lives Matter movement in its’ entirety, while also providing teaching material on the topic that Harris says is non-existent for both teachers and students at present.

MTMyNTk4OTQwMzMwNjYyMzY2She elaborated on how the textbook came to be and what she hopes to achieve by publishing it in a recent interview with Pacific Standard Magazine.

For whom did you write this book?
It’s written at an eighth-grade level. We’re pitching it to sixth to 12th grade.

But you’re thinking of adapting some of this material to make lectures for your undergraduate students, right?
One of the reasons why I was inspired to work on this project is that I taught Introduction to African-American Studies last fall and the course started three weeks after Ferguson had happened. So I go into the classroom and try to have conversations, and it’s very difficult for the students to talk about these things.

I had lots of first-year students. I just asked them, “How did you manage this in high school?” They said, “You know, we didn’t talk about these things in high school.”

Why is it useful to have a textbook, rather than giving kids a bunch of contemporary newspaper and magazine articles to read?
I’ll give you a perfect example: Let’s say there are some children who are frightened because they’re watching television and they’re seeing all this upheaval. So their question is, “Why are these people angry?” You can have educated parents that are willing to have a conversation, that will say something like, “They’re upset because the police officer, Mr. Darren Wilson, wasn’t indicted.” What does the word “indictment” mean to a seventh grader? There are grown people who don’t know what “indictment” means, right?

Is this a book for non-black American kids only?
This is useful for kids of all backgrounds, but often, black parents have a different skill set that is informed by a lived experience. My husband’s black. We have three kids. Our kids see how we are treated. They see how they are treated. Not as much needs to be translated, right?

But I live in Minnesota, so I have lots of white friends who have come up to me and said, “How do we explain this to our kids?”

The Black Lives Matter textbook is set to be published in November but for more information in the meantime, you can read the full interview with Duchess Harris HERE.


Image Credits: Macalester University/Black Lives Matter/Abdo Publishing


  1. September 1, 2015 - Reply

    GREAT IDEA! Teach our kids our story before anybody else does. I’ll be copping this book if it’s made available online.

  2. September 1, 2015 - Reply

    This is great news indeed. Sister Duchess Harris is certainly being involved in a historic project, because this will be the first time in American history where a look into the Black Lives Matter movement comes about via a textbook. It is great this book will deal with the War on Drugs and other events in Ferguson, and other places of America. Children need to know the right and they have the right to be given information about how systematic racism, economic inequality, and police corruption have no place in any society. African American history should be taught more, so people of every color can understand that our struggle for freedom is a real struggle (and in the end, black people will win this struggle).

  3. September 2, 2015 - Reply

    This is absolutely phenomenal. For this woman to write our history before anyone else like the commenter Me said. From a black perspective. Please speak truth to power. Our history will not be erased, stolen, and compromised anymore. Simply beautiful.

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