Tag Archives: COMPASS 273

Children’s Book Author Inspires Students through History

Students of P.S. 223 participating in a performance by Hasan Davis

When Hasan Davis, former Commissioner of Juvenile Justice for Kentucky and Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellow, was in third grade, he flipped through his social studies textbook and came across its sole image of an African American. It was a photo of a beaten, elderly man, and the caption read, “American Negro slave.”

“I had been looking for that story of me, as an African American,” Davis says. “When I saw that photo, I thought, ‘This is all there is to my story.’”

Davis as York

Davis credits his mother with teaching him stories about black people’s contributions to this country, and to society at large, that changed his perception. But he never wants children of color to feel the way he did flipping through that textbook, so he’s made it his life’s work to get stories of African American contributions into the hands of young people. Most recently, he’s done that by writing the children’s book The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The book tells the story of the slave who not only accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famed journey, but also was a pivotal partner who contributed greatly to its success—a fact that most people still don’t know. Davis has been making that story come to life through a one-man show at schools around the country. On April 17, Davis brought his show to The Child Center of NY’s P.S. 223 COMPASS (afterschool) program. The show included a powerful reenactment by Davis, followed by an equally powerful dialogue with the children related to race, slavery, and history.

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