As an English Language Arts Teacher, I love to write. It was fun writing “Peter and the Boycott” because I could be animated about a very real moment in history. I recently heard a well known author say “when you write, you don’t know just how much you know until you start writing.” This is true. English was my favorite subject as a child. I remember my teachers telling me to do as much research as I possibly could on a given topic. It is better to have more than enough information than limited information. I find myself passing this same information on to my students. I tell them to do the research and learn as much as they can about a topic.
When I was a kid, I would take my diary around with me everywhere . I remember writing everthing in that diary. That was the beginning of my writerly life. In my class I encourage my students to keep a composition notebook in which they might also establish a writerly life. I tell them to write about their day, write about the things they see as they walk or ride to school, write about conversations they have with others, write about things they see on tv and things they read. Topics such as these are the makings of great manuscripts.
My major in college was Television Radio Broadcasting with a minor in English. In college I took a number of composition classes, and as a broadcasting major I wrote alot of scripts for radio and television. My professors often challenged me to take my writing to the next level. I along with my classmates would compete to see who could come up with the most creative and elaborate pieces of writing. It was so much fun!
My writing has evolved over time. By the time I reached graduate school my writing had become more sophisticated, beccause it seemed that I was writing all the time on more lengthy complex topics. I guess you could say writing is my passion. I have been writing a long time whether it has been keeping a diary, journal, blog, or more professional pieces it is something I definitely enjoy doing. Writing takes me away to another world and it is the greatest stress reliever I know! I am blessed to have this gift.
“Peter and the Boycott” is written from a child’s perspective. It is quite normal for children to be inquisitive, innocent, and imaginative. Peter is curious he wants to know about the boycott and seeks to find the answers from his grandmother, friends, and teacher. After hearing Dr. King speak he has an even greater understanding. I think “Peter and the Boycott” is one of a kind because it is told from a child’s perspective. I don’t know of any book that talks about the Montgomery Bus Boycott through the eyes of a child.
Writing through Peter’s eyes was not difficult. It was quite entertaining. My father Charles Everett IV is the real-life Peter. He shed a great deal of light on what it felt like growing up during this time period. He told me that Ainie, his grandmother, who is also a character in the book, did so much to expose him so that he would have an understanding of that time. She felt that he should attend the Mass meeting that evening to hear what it was all about and to see things through his own eyes. She wanted him to have a real world experience. He was then able to put all of his experiences from that day together and was able to make a connection that has stuck with him for a lifetime.
Children are impressionable, so it is interesting to see how Peter’s friends end up convincing him that it’s not safe to ride the city buses, because boy scouts are waiting to beat everyone up who does. His teacher quickly clarifies that it is boycott not boy scout. I see this kind of thing happening all the time in my profession. Children are comical creatures. The story almost never ends up the way it began.
My inspiration for writing “Peter and the Boycott” is this. I come from a family of storytellers. Storytelling is important because one is able to hear of things that happened in the past that are still very relevant to today’s issues. I enjoyed sitting listening to my Parents, Grandparents, my Aunts, and Uncle’s stories. This was the heart of our family gatherings. That was one of my favorite things as a child and still is. My father Charles Everett, who is the main character Peter, loves to tell stories. I always learn something new from Daddy. It is very intriguing how he puts words together, the analogies that he uses, and the authenticity of it all. One of his favorite stories, and mine too, is “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.”
Whenever I find myself in a jam, no pun intended, my dad pulls one of those old time classics out of the hat. Seems he has one for almost every occasion. It is hilarious and entertaining. Storytelling is an art form. It is something that I am impressing upon my daughter and students to do. I tell them to read all kinds of books to sharpen their imaginations. Reading will give way to the art of storytelling. I also encourage them to listen to their grandparents and parents to get good ideas for stories to write about.
When my father told me about his growing up during the civil rights movement, specifically the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I was moved to share this with the world. I thought it was just too good to keep to myself. I feel that this world is in need of the message of peace that Dr. King left behind. We need a reminder that democracy is the greatest form of government in the world. There is so much going on, and “Peter and the Boycott” is definitely relevant to some of the issues that we are faced with today. It is my hope that people will be entertained by it, but also moved to demonstrate peace and nonviolence.
Storytelling will always be one of my favorite pastimes. It takes me to another world and allows me to be as creative as I want to be. There are so many things to be learned from a good story. To add a little comic relief, I think it is the very fabric of my existence. Well, maybe not the fabric of my existence, but storytelling has a great deal to do with the person I am today. I think about who I am as an individual, my character, my morals, my values, it all probably started because of something that was told to me by my family members or friends. Yes, storytelling in my opinion is a powerful tool. I am glad to have experienced such great ones.