Edwilda Allen Isaac’s vivid memories of her participation in the historic 1951 Moton High School student strike and her exhortation to subsequent generations to rally for the cause of social justice moved many audience members to tears at the inaugural Virginia Children’s Book Festival last year.

She recalled the pain of losing the opportunity for education and the deep desire to write her experiences so students would learn from the lessons of the past. For Allen, the famous William Faulkner lines ring true: "The past is never dead. It isn’t even past."

At the 2015 Virginia Children’s Book Festival, the story of civil rights and social justice continues with a secondCivil Rights in Children’s Literature: An Ongoing Story panel discussion. Set against the backdrop of the building where the student strike took place, now the Moton Museum, the discussion will feature award-winning authors from diverse backgrounds sharing their thoughts on civil rights issues from the past as well as emerging social justice causes of race, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation and others that confront our children today. The panel discussion will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16.

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander will join Latino author Duncan Tonatiuh, Lamar Giles, Wendy Shang, Newbery Honor winner Cece Bell, former editor of the Farmville Herald Ken Woodley and illustrator London Ladd for the signature VCBF event.

"Children’s literature is an important tool in helping our children address and understand these issues," said Juanita Giles, VCBF director. "This community is rich in history and has a legacy of struggling for civil rights and equal treatment. We have made major strides, but there are always issues, old and new, to resolve—issues that our children will grow up facing. All of the authors on the panel explore these issues in their books, poetry or illustrations."

Children’s literature holds a special place at the Moton Museum. The leader of the 1951 Moton strike, Barbara Johns, is the subject of the children’s book The Girl from the Tar Paper School. The book’s author, Teri Kanefield, was featured on last year’s panel and is a supporter of the festival.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public, as are all Virginia Children’s Book Festival events. A full two-day schedule can be found at www.vachildrensbookfestival.com, complete with program descriptions and author biographies.

The rich history shared by Longwood and Farmville is the centerpiece of the 2016 vice presidential debate, which will be held on the university campus in October 2016. To learn more about that history, visit debate.longwood.edu.

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