Near South Planning Board
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Darwin McBeth Walton

Darwin McBeth Walton believes that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. She has been called a pathfinder in the field of education and a social activist for most of her career. She was elected Outstanding Woman Leader in the field of Racial Justice in Dupage County in 1998.

Walton brings twenty-five years of public school teaching experience to her writing for children, and is dedicated to the belief that acceptance is the first law of teaching and learning. Children who are excluded for any reason-by teachers or peers-fail to maximize their learning potential. Her landmark book, What Color Are You? published by Johnson Publishing Co., is celebrating its 30th year, was one of the first books about America’s diversity to be used in public schools. Since 1978 Walton has designed and facilitated five courses in teacher education for National-Louis University and remains in the education arena as Student Teacher Supervisor at NLU. In 2003 she was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award at National.

Walton grew up during the great Depression--one of five girls--in Charlotte, North Carolina. She always loved to sing and started writing stories in grade school. She attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and Howard University in Washington, D.C. while working full-time. She came to Chicago with a scholarship to study music at the Chicago Conservatory of Music where she received her Bachelor of Music Degree. Racism was covert but as prevalent as in the south. As one of three African-American women studying at the conservatory she remembers being denied non-academic experiences such as dancing or singing duets with white students or other in stage activities critical to a professional career in classical music. It also required acceptance of the fact that she was black and there were no laws to protect her rights at that time. Much of Walton’s writing is about acceptance and inclusion in the multi-cultural and diverse society where our children are growing up today. It’s about family relationships and social challenges. Her book Overcoming Challenges is a story of Astronaut Major General Charles F. Bolden, one of the first four black astronauts in the U.S. and the challenges he faced in his quest for education during the 60’s. Her highly acclaimed, contemporary, middle-grade novel, Dance Kayla, Albert Whitman Publishers, 1998, (chosen one of the best books of 1990 by Banks street Selection Committee) tells of the courage of a young girl who-upon the sudden death of her grandmother-was uprooted from her beloved farm life in south Carolina to begin anew with a family in Chicago.

In a typical workshop, Make Your Characters Come Alive, Walton guides her students through drama, music and dance. They read, and dramatize prepared skit. They learn that writers reveal their character types through dialogue. And then they write! Tip: She always has a microphone. A portable karaoke works miracles when working with teens. Other publications include graded Pair-It books out of Steck-Vaughn Publishers: In Nana’s Kitchen; Part of My Family; Families are Special; Kwanzaa (A World of Holidays) Two new Underground Railroad books Journeys of Courage and Jetty’s Journey to Freedom
Event Calendar
Harold Washington Literary Dinner