Meet Ayanna Najuma.
In the 1950s, when Ayanna was just 7 years old, she and other children started a movement to desegregate the lunch counters and restaurants in in Oklahoma City, showing everyone around the world how a group of determined kids can make all the difference.
At a time in the United States when many water fountains, schools, and restaurants were segregated, African American children in Oklahoma City decided to take action by initiating a sit-in. after extensive preparation and training from adult family members, Ayanna and her friends put on their nicest clothes and walked straight into a local restaurant where they sat at the counter together. “May I have a hamburger and a Coke, please?” Ayanna asked. “No,” said the waitress.
Despite backlash and negative reactions from fellow diners and restaurant employees, the kids calmly persevered day after day until slowly, one by one, restaurant owners changed their minds and eventually the town became integrated.
Currently, Ayanna Najuma’s incredible story is featured in the latest issues of Scholastic News® classroom magazines for grades 1–4, detailing her experience as a young civil-rights activist.
Don’t miss the video, below, complete with “pause & discuss” breaks to encourage conversation in the classroom or at home!