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Little Voices, Big Ideas: Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box

The week’s ‘Little Voices, Big Ideas’ explores how ‘Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box’ can shine a light on a turbulent period of American history–and on the promise of one voice, one vote, through the discussion of this book.

One morning in rural Alabama, Michael’s granddaddy unexpectedly dons a fancy suit. Now, Granddaddy was ordinarily a man who wore coveralls and work clothes, and it wasn’t a church day, either, so Michael knew that something really special must be happening. He put on a necktie, himself, for whatever the occasion.

This was the civil rights era in the South, and the occasion, as it turned out, was voting day–the first one that Granddaddy–or anyone in Michael’s family–was allowed to vote. Michael’s teacher said that a law had just been passed making it so. But, as he soon learned, in the South of the 1960s, the journey toward racial justice was long.

It is, in fact, a journey we’re still on.

On this week’s episode, Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box. Published by Candlewick Press, this award-winning book, written by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, and illustrated in vivid watercolors by James E. Ransome, was published in 2015 and shares one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights era South. Today, we’ll walk with Michael and his granddaddy to the polls, exploring how this story can shine a light on an important period of American history–and on the promise of one voice, one vote, through the discussion of this book.

Host Sarah DeBacher is joined by fellow registered voters, Susan Larson, who hosts another book-loving podcast “The Reading Life”, children’s book author and public scholar, Freddie Evans and philosophy professor and author of multiple books on teaching philosophy to the youngest among us, Thomas Warternberg.

Alexia, Carmen, and Lelani
Credit: Sarah Debacher / Louisiana Endowment For The Humanities
Alexia, Carmen, and Lelani

We will also hear from Crystal, in conversation with her two daughters, 10 and 6-year-old Bow and Arrow, and from a grandmother, Carmen, who, along with her 8-year-old granddaughter, Alexiah, and her younger bestie, Leilani, talk about Granddaddy’s Turn.

Bow, Crystal, and Arrown
photo by George Ingmire
Bow, Crystal, and Arrow

Sarah DeBacher is the Director of Curriculum and Content Development for PRIME TIME Family Reading at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Originally from Atlanta, she has lived in New Orleans for 23 years, where she has taught English and writing at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and the Bard Early College program. Her publications include “Making it Up as We Go: Students Writing and Teachers Reflecting on Post-K New Orleans” (Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning and Community Literacy, 2008), “First, Do No Harm: Teaching Writing in the Wake of Traumatic Events” (Composition Forum, 2016), and several essays on living in New Orleans. She is mother to two young sons, three chickens, two cats, and a rescue dog.