MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Their names stand for the quest for justice and equality.Martin grew up in a loving family in the American South, at a time when this country was plagued by racial discrimination. He aimed to put a stop to it. He became a minister like his daddy, and he preached and marched for his cause.Abraham grew up in a loving family many years earlier, in a Europe that did not welcome Jews. He found a new home in America, where he became a respected rabbi like his father, carrying a message of peace and acceptance.Here is the story of two icons for social justice, how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.
About the Author
Richard Michelson is an award-winning poet and children’s book author whose work has been praised by Elie Wiesel as “deeply moving.” He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Raul Colón is the recipient of both Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. He lives in New City, New York.
What People are Saying About This
Starred Review, Booklist, February 1, 2008:
"“In this powerful, well-crafted story about a partnership between two great civil rights leaders,
Michelson shows how the fight for human rights affects everyone.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2008:
"Gentle, powerful, and healing."
Review, The New York Times Book Review, July 13, 2008:
"A portrait of one of the more unusual partnerships of the civil rights movement."
Reading Group Guide
1. Show students the cover of As Good as Anybody. Have them “read the cover” to predict what the story might be about. Discuss what the title means. Elicit many different responses, recording each on chart paper. Next, ask students if they recognize any of the people shown in the cover illustration (some students may recognize Dr. King). Activate prior knowledge about Dr.King’s life and the civil rights movement, and tell students that they will be learning about another important figure in the struggle for civil rights, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
2. Discrimination–Ask students to write a personal definition of the words discriminate and discrimination. Ask for volunteers to share their definitions; write key words and commonalities on the board. Gradually, begin to form a final definition for each word to which the whole class can refer. Form a large circle and lead a book talk to discuss how both King and Heschel personally experienced discrimination in their lives. Offer students an opportunity to share their own personal or observed experiences with discrimination.
3. Injustice–After being forced to leave Germany, Abraham discovers that no one will hire Jews. He decides to leave for the United States because, “In America, he’d heard, everyone was treated fairly.” Do you think what Abraham had heard about America was true? What injustices did he encounter in the United States after he had settled there? What did he do to make his new country a more fair and just place for all people? Discuss what Abraham meant when he said, “God did not make a world with just one color flower.”
4. Social Action–Both Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel were men of words–words that inspired thousands of people. But they backed up their words with action. Discuss what the term social action means. Challenge students to offer examples of social action (petitions, protests, marches, writing to government leaders, boycotts, sit-ins, etc.). Discuss Rabbi Heschel’s statement, “It is important not only to protest evil, but to be seen protesting.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not? Challenge students to generate a list of social actions that they can do to make their school/community/world a better place.
5. Write the phrase power in numbers on the board. Lead a discussion on the meaning of this phrase and how it applies to events in the text.
6. Civil Rights–Some students may have heard or read about the Civil Rights Movement, but many may not know what the term actually means. Pass out dictionaries and direct students to look up the words civil and rights. After all students have found, read, and written the definitions, organize the class in a large circle to discuss the meaning of each word and to come up with a class definition of civil rights. While in the circle, conduct an interactive read-aloud of As Good as Anybody, focusing on the civil rights that Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel were denied, and as adults, worked to obtain.