Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Jun 02, 2020

Storytelling School with The Moth: Storytelling Activity #16

by The Moth Staff

Lesson #16: INSPIRATION: "Ruby Bridges’ Influence" - Valarie Walker

Welcome back to Storytelling School with The Moth! We are in the midst of a difficult time that can feel hard to process, both for ourselves and for our young people. For this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at a story about meeting a hero who left an indelible mark on history. This story is also in a new Moth playlist, Say It Out Loud, featuring experiences from people of color in this country.

This week’s Storytelling School story is:

“Ruby Bridges’ Influence” by Valarie Walker

You can read the transcript of Valarie’s story here.

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities:

1. Talk to each other about Valarie’s story.

For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on INSPIRATION. Every story, every belief, every action starts from a spark. Sometimes that spark is a person in your life who encourages or challenges you and sometimes it is the outrage of experiencing or witnessing inequity, violence and oppression. If that spark is deeply felt, it can inspire us to powerful and change-provoking storytelling.  What inspires you to use your voice or take action?

  • This week, many of us are thinking about how to talk to our children, our students and our communities of young people about how to respond to injustice. Here are some questions you might consider to begin (or continue) that conversation: 

    • Who do we look to for leadership and wisdom in times of struggle or crisis?  How might you offer support with humility and compassion to someone looking to you? 

    • Who are some people you’ve admired who made a “mark on history”? What mark on history would you like to make or inspire others to make? 

    • As a teacher, Valarie talks about how she uses Ruby’s story as a springboard for a deeper examination of the law. How can personal stories change our understanding of big ideas or moments in history? What kind of springboard can your stories provide? 

    • The Freedom schools movement of the 60’s encouraged young Black students to engage politically and become leaders and agents of social change. How can our schools now inspire and support activism? Or in Valarie’s words, how can our teachers “convey an ability to speak to history and make another mark”?

2. Write or tell your own story.

At The Moth, we believe in celebrating the diversity and commonality of human experience. Often, listening to someone’s story will remind us of a story from our own lives. While you almost definitely have not had Valarie’s exact experience, it still may have reminded you of a story from your own life. Get inspired by these prompt questions to tell your own story!

  • Tell us about a time you felt like history was speaking directly to you

  • Tell us about a time you had a chance to thank one of your heroes

  • Tell us about a time you discovered you’d inspired someone

  • Tell us about a time you were determined to do something, even if it felt dangerous

  • Tell us about a time you wanted to shout “Pick me, Pick me!”

  • Tell us about a time you stood up for something you believed in or protested something that needed to change

  • Tell us about a time you felt energized and ready

3. Activities

  • Is there someone in your life who you consider to be a hero or mentor? What does that look like? What do they do?

    • If you do, take a moment to thank them and have a conversation with them. Maybe you can do it in person, over the phone, or writing a letter.

    • If you don’t, who in your community or your greater network can you look to for guidance and comfort? It could be someone you know, like a family member or a fellow member of an organization, or someone you don’t know, like Ruby Bridges or Valarie.

  • What inspires you? Maybe an action you’ve seen from someone, a song, a flower, a quote from someone you admire. Use that inspiration and create a work of art out of it! Whatever art means to you: visual, music, spoken, dance, or anything else!

4. Share this post with a friend!

And check back next Tuesday for another story.

Valarie Walker is new to the story telling scene, and is enjoying learning the craft. She blames her mother, Rosemarie Walker, for inspiring her to use her imagination and to believe that everyone has a story to tell.

Check out All Together Now, Fridays with The Moth, wherever you listen to your podcasts, new every Friday!

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from The Kresge Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman. 

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.