Voting with kids, Philly style
November 5, 2012By Maleka Fruean, of Germantown Avenue Parents
Maybe you and your family have already gotten excited about election season. Or maybe you are like me, a bit jaded and not really seeing what real change can be done with politics and your vote. We're down to the wire. Election day is upon us, and I'm pushing away my fears, disappointment, and overall disillusionment about politics and coming to an epiphany for me and my children.
Voting was a scarred and emotionally charged journey in this country, as it was and still is in many countries. Hard working activists fought for every person in this nation to bring their voice to the table. Yes, the process is still not perfect. Yes, our candidates are not keeping promises. But I'm still going to teach my children how we got to this very day in history.
Here are some creative kid-friendly ways to start the dialogue and explore voting and the history of voting in this country:
In Northwest Philly
• Before and after election day, take your children to see the history that lies right in our neighborhood. The Underground Railroad was alive and pulsing in Northwest Philadelphia, and exploring every historical building in these neighborhoods is essential in learning the path that brought our country to fight for voting rights for everyone. Take a tour through the Johnson House and connect how Quaker families working with European and African-American families were a crucial part of the anti-slavery movement. Visit the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust and learn more about the first signed protest against slavery in the country. Learn about daily life as an enslaved African in President Washington's household at the Deshler-Morris House (known as Germantown's White House).
• In 1870, African-American men were given the right to vote. But in 1915, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts still rejected women's suffrage. All American women were finally given the right to vote in 1920. There would still be a long road ahead to provide safe and undiscriminating voting practices for African-American men and women. Explore the life of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson with your children: a prominent orator, abolitionist, and woman's suffragist who was born and raised in Philadelphia. What other powerful women grew up in Philadelphia, or even in the Northwest neighborhoods of Philadelphia? How did they help change history?
• Take the children to Imperfect Gallery, Germantown's newest art gallery, for their current show "It Has Always Been About Voting". The show will be up until November 24th. The show features photographer Robert J. Brand's pictures documenting a march in Mississippi in 1966 held by James Meredith "to demonstrate that African Americans should not fear registering to vote and demanding full equality under the law." History brought to life for our younger ones!
• Drop by the Please Touch Museum on Election Day with the kids, and after the 10:30, 12:30, and 3:30 story times, the kids will have an opportunity to cast their votes for the 28th Annual Kid's Choice Book Awards winner. Once they have cast their ballot, junior voters can write a personal message to the Commander-In-Chief by participating in the museum's Please Write Project, "Postcards to the President" activity.
• And of course, read some unique election and voting picture books like Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel, where it's time to elect a new president for the Neighborhood Cat Coalition. The election will be decided by a surprise last minute absentee vote. Or Eileen Christelow's book Vote! that provides a look into the voting process, even giving a description of an election recount.
Remember, it has always been about voting, kids!
Northwest Philly Parents is a partnership between Newsworks and Germantown Avenue Parents.