Teachable Moment

Hello Friends,

I’m writing to share an important update about She Persisted: Dorothy Height. After publication, I discovered that I included an error about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I wrote that Mahalia Jackson’s was the only female voice heard at the March and that she sang the National Anthem. Neither is correct. 

When I research a nonfiction book, I consult primary sources as much as possible. In this case, I used credible primary and secondary sources. But when the book debuted, I came across a program for the March on Washington that made me question what I found. I dug deeper after that, looking at video of the March and other sources I hadn’t reviewed. They confirmed that what I had written was incorrect. I deeply apologize for my mistake.

Though women helped make the March a reality, they were not treated fairly. They were marginalized and didn’t have a major speaking role. But several women sang, including Camilla Williams who sang the National Anthem, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Odetta and Mahalia Jackson. A few women including Daisy Bates and Josephine Baker spoke too.

I asked for my errors to be corrected in the next edition of the book. But I wanted to let you know how it happened and that a revised page is available below.

I’m honored to be a writer for the She Persisted series and take my responsibility as a children’s book author seriously. I care about and respect my young readers. This experience has reminded me of the importance of being even more diligent with fact-checking. Consult as many primary sources as you can find. When you’re writing about events where there is video footage, make sure you corroborate what’s in print with what you see. I hope educators, librarians and parents can use this as a teachable moment that even professional writers make mistakes. What matters most is owning up to them, apologizing and correcting the record. 

Thank you for supporting my work. I’m excited that She Persisted: Dorothy Height is in the world. She’s one of my heroes. I hope you are inspired by her story and those of the other incredible changemakers in the series.

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