“Dovey Johnson Roundtree set a new path for women and proved that the vision and perseverance of a single individual can turn the tides of history.”—Michelle Obama
Katie-McCabe is the co-author of two inspiring new books about the life of civil rights trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree: We Wait for the Sun (a new picture book stunningly illustrated by Raissa Figueroa) and Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition), adapted by Jabari Asim, from Dovey’s memoir for adults.
In a letter to educators and librarians, Katie McCabe shares why Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s story is so important to share with young readers as we teach them about the fight for civil rights and racial equality.
You can request a digital ARC of Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition) on NetGalley today! Keep reading to learn how.
I can hear Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s rich, melodious voice even now, taking me with her into the world she inhabited in the early years of the last century, a world filled with the pain of Jim Crow alongside the power of her family’s love. I’d first encountered Dovey in a 1995 Washington Post article about her collaboration with actress Cicely Tyson, who modeled her TV portrayal of a feisty civil rights lawyer on Dovey. Captivated by her vision of justice, I sought her out to interview her for a magazine profile. Neither of us imagined, then, that together we would create the memoir that became Mighty Justice. Nor could we have foreseen that 11 years after its original publication, our work would inspire a picture book about Dovey and her beloved grandmother and a middle-grade adaptation giving young readers a front-row seat for Dovey’s civil rights triumphs.
What a homely beginning we made, Dovey and I, sitting and rocking together on the screen porch of her Washington DC home—her “thinking porch,” Dovey loved to call it—as deer wandered to the edge of nearby Rock Creek Park to gaze at us. In soft accents that betokened her Carolina beginnings, Dovey shared with me the rich details of the lives she’d led as a groundbreaking lawyer, a minister, and an Army veteran who’d defied the odds of time and place to change the world.
25 years have passed since then, and in that time America has pitched into a painful reckoning with its racial history. I’m a parent and a former teacher, and today it is our children who weigh most heavily on my mind. How will we show them the way toward justice? How can we equip them to engage in the fight for racial equity without losing themselves in the process? Dovey Roundtree’s story goes to the very heart of these questions. A Black woman in a white man’s world, she prevailed over a system engineered to thwart her, and she never lost her faith, her nerve, or her love of people. Of every battle that Dovey waged, none was more impassioned than her fight for children, whose welfare consumed her in her final years as a lawyer. They were the ones she most hoped to inspire with her story.
She said as much back in 1998, when she told an interviewer, “There are so many things I’ve not been able to do, that maybe some other Dovey, somewhere, will accomplish.” We Wait for the Sun and Mighty Justice: A Young Reader’s Edition are my gifts to those “other Dovey’s,” the children who will take up the fight that Dovey began so long ago, and find in the power and beauty of her struggle a way forward.
—Co-Author Katie McCabe
Dovey Johnson Roundtree was an attorney and minister who was one of the first women to be commissioned an Army officer and who helped win a landmark case banning segregation in interstate bus travel. She died in 2018 at the age of 104.
Katie McCabe is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washingtonian Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, and Reader’s Digest, among others. Her National Magazine Award–winning article on black medical legend Vivien Thomas was the basis for the HBO film Something the Lord Made, winner of three Emmys and a 2005 Peabody award.
Jabari Asim is the author of several adult and children’s books, including Preaching to the Chickens which was named one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2016 and Fifty Cents and a Dream-an NAACP Image Award Nominee, Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, School Library Journal Editor’s Choice, and Kirkus Best Book. He is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston and executive editor of The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP. He recently was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
Raissa Figueroa is an illustrator and graphic designer working out of sunny San Diego.
Watch an interview with Dovey Johnson Roundtree below!
About the Books:
Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe; adapted by Jabari Asim
On Sale December 15, 2020
There are many key figures of the civil rights movement whose names don’t often appear in history books, those who fought hard for equality behind the scenes. One such figure is lawyer Dovey Johnson Roundtree. Developed from Dovey’s memoir by co-author Katie McCabe, and adapted by Jabari Asim with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.
We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe; illustrated by Raissa Figueroa
On Sale January 5, 2021
From civil rights trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree and co-author Katie McCabe comes a stunning picture book about a precious early-morning moment between her and her grandmother—the woman who taught her everything she knew about self-worth, strength, and justice. With vivid, vibrant illustrations from Raissa Figueroa, We Wait for the Sun is a resonant, beautiful story told through one exquisite page turn after another.