Dorina Williamson of Franklin has done many jobs in her life.
High on her list of accomplishments: she’s the mother of four adult children between the ages of 18 and 28. She is also the First Lady of the Nashville Church and works part-time. She was previously a longtime social worker.
Her latest profession? I found it.
“I’m starting to get this feeling that maybe I can help,” Williamson said. “Not out of pride…I have the heart to keep growing, learning and helping others do the same.”
Because of personal and professional experiences, she knew what questions children were asking and what the parents’ job was to answer them. As a partner in farming and leader of a strong multi-ethnic Tower Bible Church, she knew what white fathers struggle to discuss, especially when it comes to race in America.
So, I started writing children’s books.
sixth and latest effort, Jonathan’s story It was published live at a time when the holiday has entered the consciousness of more non-black people than ever before.
At just 250 words of 24 pages, the specially designed “board book” for young children with thick cardboard pages provides context and holiday history for children ages two to five.
Williamson: “How do you explain to infants and young children that people were enslaved?”
Last summer, after President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, Williamson was invited to write the book.
She had just experienced the first Franklin-sponsored Juneteenth event, as well as a colorful United States Forces memorial that was finally installed in the city’s public square, thanks to the work of her husband, Reverend Chris Williamson, and other local religious leaders.
Although she has two more books in the works, two of her children’s weddings, her youngest child’s graduation and much more next year, she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to write on the subject.
“How do you explain to infants and young children that people have been enslaved? How can you not be ashamed of the fact that it was absolutely terrible?” I asked rhetorically. “It was a challenge that I was willing to accept because I felt that babies, young children, and pre-readers deserved to start understanding what this is all about.”
She hopes the book is something not all-inclusive, but a starting point.
Franklin Author: “Remember the Joy and Hope that Freedom Brings”
The movie “The Story of Juneteenth” focuses on the joy that blacks felt when they learned their freedom, and the joy they felt when everyone celebrates Juneteenth communion today.
Williamson said her language is easy to digest for young children. Hope parents read it with children, especially for those crucial moments of contrast.
In one section, Williamson and painter Marcia Jenny depict the celebration of “Watch Night” on New Year’s Eve 1862 (also called “Freedom’s Eve”, still celebrated by many black faith communities) as an executive order issued by Abraham Lincoln to free enslaved people In the Confederacy the states took effect, while the next day, they showed visible grief to others who held the restrictions for another two years in Texas.
“Hopefully when the kids get older and say, ‘Well, why didn’t they get the news? “The parents made it clear that this was not fair…and used that as an opportunity to build on the work of justice that continues today,” she said.
“(Blacks) remember the joy and hope that freedom brings as we continue to work so that justice, freedom, and equality will continue.”
While the holiday of Juneteenth arrives in time to raise awareness and interest this year, it also comes after months of challenges by adults against children’s books that touch on issues of race, identity and American history, especially in schools and among lawmakers, both locally and internationally. nationally.
Williamson hopes her work will serve as a reminder that people want to know the truth about history, that many want help and companionship in doing so, and that families have the ability to educate about the truth at home.
“Books are a great way to do that,” she said. “They’re amazing launchpads for these kinds of stories.”
More about Franklin author Dorena Williamson
Visit her website: https://dorenawilliamson.com
Purchase the “Juneteenth Story” by visiting: https://www.worthykids.com
Anika Exum is a reporter covering Williamson County, Tennessee, and part of the USA TODAY Network – Tennessee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 615-347-7313 or at Twitter @aniexum. To stay up-to-date with Williamson County news, Register to get our latest news.