This post was written by Mindy Bender-Webster while teaching our summer Pre4/5 class. Our teachers are highly skilled with using children’s literature to not only learn about the content of the story, in this case the life of Aretha Franklin, but also weaving it into our ongoing work with social justice.
Today we read the book “Sing, Aretha, Sing” by Hanif Abdurraqib. The story taught us about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and the importance of her well-known song “Respect.” We used examples to define the word respect in an age appropriate way.
• Respect is making sure everyone is safe.
• Respect is using kind words.
• Respect is listening to everyone’s voice.
• Respect is welcoming and including.
• Respect is taking turns and sharing.
After the story, we danced together while listening closely to the lyrics for the word: RESPECT.
I learned about the history of “Respect” right along with the children! Though I’ve known the song since I was a child, and have belted it loudly many times, I was unaware of its influence during the civil rights and women’s rights movement. While the children were at recess, I did a little more research on the topic. Here is an excerpt from an article I found on Biography.com (Real the full article here: https://www.biography.com/musicians/aretha-franklin-respect-meaning ).
“When the then-24-year-old released her rendition of “Respect” in April 1967, audiences immediately grasped onto the confidence and independent spirit that the song’s empowering sass elicited. Within weeks, it flew to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, where it reigned for 12 weeks, but more importantly, it quickly became a rallying cry that marginalized groups — especially the civil rights and women’s rights movements — adopted as an anthem since it preached the essential message that everyone’s voices deserved to be heard.”