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Every once in a while, down through the pages of time, the life and works of one man forever changes the lives of millions of people. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a man.
Debi explains her motivation for writing Listen To My Dream:
“I remember the day I helped black soldiers, soldiers who had given their young bodies for their nation, courageous men from places like California and Washington state, into my car and took them for a short ride to the local dairy bar for a long-anticipated ice cream cone. For months they had languished in the hospital, living for any opportunity to get out. I remember the profound hurt I saw in their eyes when they saw hanging from the shop s two front windows, signs they had never before seen: Whites Only. I had grown up with it; it was just the way things were. But through their eyes I saw ugliness and hate. I felt angry stares from the nearby cars, heard unknown voices whispering, What's a white girl doing here with a Negro in the front seat? They didn't know that the soldier couldn't get out because he lost his legs fighting a war for them. What I saw through their eyes that day made me so ashamed.”
In rhythmic manner, Debi presents Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. She begins with the dream of a boy, the son of a preacher and a teacher born at a time when for many, dreams were just that: dreams with little or no hope of being realized. She continues as he grows, refusing to accept that and not only dreamed but labored to make that dream a reality. Throughout his life he shares his dream with others, inviting them to also dream and join him in his labors. Although in life he only reached the mountaintop his dream lives on and has become a reality for many over the years. Listen To My Dream will captivate readers young and old with its engaging storytelling and colorful artwork. Follow the life of the young boy that would become Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he dreams, shares his dream and then lives and gives his life to make that dream a reality for others. This book will remind those who may have lived so long as to have forgotten the dream and will introduce the dream to a generation that has benefited from the dream without even knowing of it.
The book is being reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr., c/o Writers House as agent for the proprietor New York, NY. Copyright 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; copyright renewed 1991 Coretta Scott King.
The book Listen To My Dream, a children's story about Martin Luther King, Jr, was published in December, 2009. The publisher is Pearl Books, LLC. The book covers the life of King from childhood through his death in 1968 and is written as a narrative poem. It opens with King asking his mother why he was black and wasn't treated like others. Later, his teacher encouraged him to dream big dreams to help others. He set his mind to do that very thing. As a 'colored man' (a term for Negroes at the time), he didn't have the same privileges in the south that whites had. Then when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person and was arrested, King organized a boycott of the Montgomery bus system until blacks were treated the same as others. Eventually in 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that such discrimination was against the law. The children's part of the book is written as a poem, emphasizing the importance of setting goals and sticking to them. It ends after King's funeral following his murder on April 4, 1968. Listen To My Dream is a 40 page book written in two parts. The first poetic part, as mentioned above, outlines King's life and influence in bringing about racial equality. Part two gives more details about the civil rights movement and how King influenced it; this part is written as a narrative and has no pictures. Debi and Michael Pearl drew all the illustrations for the first part of the book. At times the poem only hints at something and then, a detail is given on the picture. An example of this is the statement that it was his teacher, Miss Lemon from Oglethorpe Elementary who prodded him on to have a dream and believe in it. The focus of the book Listen To My Dream is on King's part in bringing about civil rights. In that Martin Luther King should be recognized and remembered.
― Susannah Singer, EzineArticles
Why Would An Old White Lady Write A Children’s Book Extolling Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nashville, TN, 18 November 2009
Contact: Mel Cohen 931-593-2484
WHY WOULD AN OLD WHITE LADY WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK EXTOLLING DR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR
The answer is simple: the hurt in a wounded soldier’s eyes.
Debi Pearl grew up during the turbulent 1960s in a small town that hosted the nation’s largest Navy and Marine training base, where soldiers were quickly trained and shipped out for service in Vietnam. Young Debi worked as a volunteer in the base’s World War II-era hospital for the returning wounded. The hospital was comprised of many long rooms with beds closely packed down both sides. One wing contained those who had lost arms, another housed leg amputees, another burn victims, another the blinded.
This is her story of why she wrote Listen To My Dream:
“I remember the day I helped black soldiers, soldiers who had given their young bodies for their nation, courageous men from places like California and Washington state, into my car and took them for a short ride to the local Dairy Bar for a long-anticipated ice cream cone. For months they had languished in the hospital, living for any opportunity to get out.
I remember the profound hurt I saw in their eyes when they saw hanging from the shop’s two front windows, signs they had never before seen: Whites Only. I had grown up with it; it was just the way things were. But through their eyes I saw ugliness and hate. I felt angry stares from the nearby cars, heard unknown voices whispering, ‘What’s a white girl doing here with a Negro in the front seat?’ They didn’t know that the soldier couldn’t get out―he lost his legs fighting a war for them.
What I saw through their eyes that day made me so ashamed.”
In the coming years, Debi’s experience would shape her worldview and the way she homeschooled her five children. She wanted them to see the truth as she had seen it, as she had lived it―because she was there. She told them how unjustly black people were treated when she was young, being forbidden to drink from a water fountain at the local zoo, sit where they wanted on a bus, or use the public bathrooms, how doctors wouldn’t see them until all the white patients had been treated.
To better teach her children, Debi combed the shelves of the local library for books on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She found only one worn out, very boring children’s book and asked the librarian, “Where are all the books on Dr. King?” The black lady’s face betrayed her frustration as she said, “You’re looking at it.”
Debi went home and stewed. How could such a man, such a landmark in history, not have a whole shelf of books describing the marvelous things he had worked tirelessly to bring about? How would future generations know about Dr. King unless his legacy was recorded in books?
Working from the stories she had told her children, Debi wrote Listen to My Dream in 1986 using the same rhyme and rhythm with which she had taught them the ABC’s. When she finished writing the book, she printed a few hundred copies and took it to a book fair, where an elderly black pastor stopped to read it. He wept openly. Others, curious, stopped to read the little children’s book. Everyone that read it, bought one. Within days churches had ordered hundreds, and the Memphis school system ordered thousands for its libraries.
Then Debi was contacted by her attorney. She had unknowingly infringed on the King Foundation’s copyright; years earlier they had established legal guidelines that could not be breached. Debi’s family could not afford to pay the required fees, and so, one discouraging day, they packed up what remained of the books.
Twenty-three years later, in 2009, a young boy picked up a dusty old copy of Listen To My Dream and asked, “What’s this little book about?”
“This book,” she told him, as the old memory of the soldier’s hurting eyes replayed in her mind, “is about a man that made your life a whole lot better.” The child’s amused dark face looked like he thought the old lady had lost her mind, but he didn’t know he had rekindled a long dormant flame.
This time, the correct protocol was followed. On October 27, 2009, the King Foundation graciously gave its formal approval via a licensing agreement.
The rest is history.
Listen To My Dream by Debi Pearl will release December 15, 2009, released by Pearl Books, LLC.