On June 20, 2020 the ACLU of Louisiana hosted a Children’s March for Racial Justice. The event included youth performances, a book reading, a march, and a creative exercise facilitated by New Orleans street artist Brandan “BMike” Odums where children and families envisioned a safer world without police violence. 

Nearly 60 years after hundreds of children were injured or arrested as part of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, the goal of the Children’s March was to provide a safe space for young people to learn about the Black Lives Matter Movement; develop the skills to identify and interrupt racism in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities; and make their voices heard about the future they want to build.  

The ACLU of Louisiana compiled the following toolkit as a resource for other groups and organizations that want to organize their own event. 

1. Sample Run of Show, Affirmations, and Chants

Q.Sample Run of Show, Affirmations, and Chants
A.

Welcome  

Song: Lift Every Voice & Sing

Community Agreements: 

  • Make Space, Take Space: Be aware of how much you are contributing to te conversation.  Make room for others if you are the talkative type, and speak up if you’re the quiet type. 
  • Try On: Try on new ideas and perspectives, instead of rejecting them outright. 
  • Intent versus Impact: At our march this was demonstrated with Legos. "Maxine loves Legos and borrows Chris’s with the intent to play, but accidentally breaks them." Be aware of you own and others’ intent and impact. 

Creative Exercise: Imagine your safest place (3-7 year-olds), and imagine a world without police violence (8-13 year-olds). 

Youth Performances: Spoken word, poetry and music.

March

  • We introduced the march by sharing what it means to have freedom of speech and why we are marching. 
  • Then children were led in call-and-response chants as they held up hand-made and preprinted signs. 
  • Chants: Black Lives, Matter! Black Kids, Matter! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! 

Book Reading: “I Can Do Hard Things,” by Gabi Garcia 

Closing Affirmations: 

My life matters, your life matters, Black lives matter.
I am powerful. 
I have support. 
I can create change.
I will use my voice and actions to create an anti-racist community
.
 

2. General Tips

Q.General Tips
A.
  1. Safety First. Hold your event outside and make sure to practice social distancing. Require masks and provide PPE and hand sanitizer to all participants. Use markings on the ground to help people stay 6 feet apart.
  2. Food and beverages. Have plenty of food and water on hand. 
  3. Get creative. With a sign-making station or a facilitated creative exercise, give children an outlet to express themselves. 
  4. Do your research. There are many great resources about how to talk about racism with children of all ages. We've included some of our preferred resources below.
  5. Keep the program short. Keep the program short – no longer than 15 minutes. Consider including a song and a book reading to keep young people engaged.
  6. Embrace Diversity. Children pick up on what adults do just as much as what we say. Make sure your event centers the voices of Black children and reflects the diversity of your community.

3. Anti-Racism Resources

4. Signs, Photos, and Apparel

5. Take Action

Q.Take Action
A.

Demonstrating support for racial justice is essential, but symbolic gestures should always be backed up with action. Consider asking your group to commit to concrete actions to advance racial justice in your community. These could include: 

  • Supporting organizations like the ACLU, the Movement for Black Lives, the NAACP, and the Color of Change.
  • Contacting your local city council to urge them to divest from police and reinvest in community well-being. 
  • Send a message to Congress urging them to support H.R. 40, a bill that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery and its impact and make recommendations for reparations to Congress.