In The Life Fantastic, Maeve warns Teresa to be careful in her friendship with Pietro, an African American vaudeville performer. She tells Teresa that black men and boys in the South “get lynched if they look at a white girl.” Maeve also shares the story about a civil disturbance in Springfield, Illinois in 1908, where a white woman lied about being raped by an African American. Two black men were arrested, and when they escaped lynching, white residents rioted, causing massive destruction in the black community. The woman’s lie wasn’t discovered until after the riot ended and a number of people were killed. After that, Maeve’s father took part in Ku Klux Klan meetings.
Many people think that the KKK was only active in southern states, but in the novel, Teresa remembers her father talking about the Klan having meetings in Vermont. Do you know the history of the KKK? Are you aware of their continuing presence in America today?
Learn more with these recommended books:
Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: the True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate, written by Rick Bowers, National Geographic Society, 2012.
They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group, written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, written by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engle, John Parra, and Meilo So, Chronicle Books, 2012.
Witness, written by Karen Hesse. Scholastic, 2001.
Wreath for Emmett Till, written by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.