Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "Juliette Hampton Morgan"
- A bell, chime, rain stick or other musical noisemaker
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story a few times. Consider telling it dramatically, rather than reading it from the page. Practice telling it. Claim the storytelling; for example, try adopting a different voice for Juliette Morgan's writing. The stories here are written for a Story for All Ages moment-part performance, part ministry.
- For storytelling, be ritualistic. Create a mood and a time that is different from other moments in the session. For example, turn overhead lights off and use lamps. Position yourself where all can see and hear you. You may wish to wear a storytelling shawl.
- Review the questions and choose some you think might resonate with the group and help these particular children interpret the story and relate it to their own lives.
- If the group is very large, plan to form smaller groups (no less than three participants) for discussion. An adult leader should facilitate each small group.
- Consider what this story means to you in relation to the purpose of this session. Articulate this in a one- or two-word sentence that you can share with the group at the end of the discussion, perhaps using an example-one this age group will understand.
Description of Activity
Before you begin, ring the chime (or other noisemaker). Make eye contact with each participant.
Read or tell the story. Sound the chime again at the end.
Invite the children to think silently on their own about the story.
Now we are going to practice listening and discussing skills-both are needed to help us understand the story from multiple perspectives. Let's find out what one another thought about the story.
Remind them not to assume others share their opinions. Ask everyone to use "I think" or "I feel" statements. Encourage the group to listen to each comment and then share some silence. Use the bell or chime to move between speakers.
Begin a discussion by asking participants to recap the story in their own words. What they recall indicates what they found most meaningful or memorable.
Then use these questions to facilitate discussion, making sure everyone who wants to speak has a chance:
- What were Juliette Hampton Morgan's privileges? (education, social status, wealth, white skin in a racist society that oppressed African Americans)
- How were her privileges useful when she wanted to help fight injustice?
- If she'd been a poor white woman, would she have written letters to the newspaper editor? Would her letters have been printed? Would her friends and family have been so concerned about her behavior?
- If Morgan had been a poor African American woman, would her letter have been printed? Why or why not?
- What risks did Juliette Hampton Morgan take by being an ally to African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama during the time of segregation?
- Did Juliette lose any of her privileges by her actions? In other words, by using her privileges to help others, did she then lose them? Which ones? How did this happen? How do you think she felt?
- Why do you think Juliette Hampton Morgan was willing to face these risks? What gave Juliette Hampton Morgan the courage to stand up to racism?
Conclude by saying, in your own words:
As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to take care of one another in our interconnected web of all life. At times that can mean using our privilege and taking risks, as Juliette Hampton Morgan did.