By Donovan Levine, Editor-In-Chief
Jenny Wallace, Arts & Entertainment
Michael G. Long is a local PA author from Lower Allen Township who will be publishing the book “Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice,” which will be released on March 23.
Long is the author and editor of more than twenty books on civil rights, LGBTQ rights, protest movements, religion and politics.
In his interview with The Keystone, when asked about his inspiration for the book, Long said, “Part of my desire was to give kids their just due. I think it’s unfortunate when we tell U.S. history from the perspective of adults, and we limit that focus just to adults.”
Long added, “Kids have been adept at spreading the word of protests. And then when those protests happen, kids have been excellent about sharing what’s been going on. And that’s something we’ve never seen before.”
Long shared his thoughts on how much social media has allowed activism to thrive through the way young kids spread the news about social justice. He gave examples such as Greta Thunberg, the kids involved in the George Floyd protest and Alexandria Villaseñor.
“Readers will be inspired by the advocacy, leadership and determination of the young change agents,” says an early review of Long’s book from Kirkus Reviews. “The stories are accompanied by photos and primary source documents, breathing life into the subjects and showing a clear connecting thread between young people of different generations. … Readers will lose themselves in this work and emerge energized.”
In the interview, Long also referenced American political scientist Gene Sharp who wrote on several topics regarding nonviolent action and whose work partly influenced the events of a series of anti-oppression, anti-government protests and uprisings known as Arab Spring. Long encourages professors to teach Sharp’s writings in their classes.
“We make ourselves vulnerable by opening ourselves up to criticism and rejection,” Long said, referring to standing up for beliefs even when family and friends have differing views. “I do think the fear of rejection is what drives most people to stay silent.”
Long knows how difficult it can be to speak up and encourages those who do stand up to reach out to those who are silent. “I just don’t want to point my finger at silent people and judge them … it’s not easy to get over.”
“The biggest issue [today in this country] remains America’s original sin, and that is racism,” said Long.
In talking of racism, Long added about deceased Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, “He grew up in a time when black folks couldn’t go to that white restroom. … International Day [was when] the children of color could go swim by themselves, and when they left the pool was drained and scrubbed for the white kids the rest of the week.”
While racism is still prominent in America, it has improved significantly since Lewis’s childhood. “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go,” Long said.
In regards to his upcoming book release, Long added, “I hope the book will be known as turning to these smaller voices … and giving them the megaphone … inspiring those who feel too small to make a difference,” as some people in his book are small, yet they transform the world with their activism.
As a white man, Long admits, “I’ve experienced enormous privilege in my life.” Yet with this privilege, he said he wants his legacy to be “[giving] a voice to the voiceless,” not by speaking for them, but amplifying the voice they already have.
Pre-order hardcopies for “Kids On The March” will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop and IndieBound, as well as ebook and audiobook formats.