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Shared Story Juanita Gambrell Floyd’s mother’s lessons about loving one another have been memorialized in a children’s book.

written by Melanie Crownover illust rated by Tracy Applewhite

Juanita Gambrell Floyd shares her experience as a student during integration in a new children’s book. Learn more about the book and co-author Sara Berry’s Integrity Time curriculum at

For years,

as a guest speaker around the area, Juanita Gambrell Floyd has told the story of the summer before her secondgrade year. Now she and co-author Sara Berry share her experience in “Summer of 1969,” a children’s book with a powerful message.

Invitation Tupelo: What was the significance of that summer? Floyd: That was when my mama prepared me for enforced integration. Normally in the summer, she would play with me. Not that summer. She’d get me to sit down and read out of my satchel, and she would ask me my name. My given name. She wanted me to have a sense of identity.

18 INVITATION TUPELO | February 2018

IT: Why was it important to your mother that you be prepared? Floyd: She’d seen at the town hall meetings that [some people] were not ready, and she knew their attitudes would trickle down to the kids. I was the only black girl in second grade at my new school. There were ugly names on the playground, and when they came I would say, “That’s not my name. My name is Cozett Juanita Gambrell.” When I tried to play with the other kids and they refused, I would take my satchel of books Mama had gotten permission from the teacher to send and read them. By the time we graduated, those same kids were voting for me as most likely to succeed and into class offices.

Invitation Tupelo - February 2018  
Invitation Tupelo - February 2018