Gloria Respress-Churchwell has a passion for sharing nonfictional stories, especially those about unsung heroes. Having received a M.A. and M.F.A. from Simmons College in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children as a Lee & Low Books Scholar, Respress-Churchwell’s picture book Follow Chester! (Charlesbridge Publishing) debuts in 2019 about the true story of how Dr. Chester Pierce became the first African American to play college football south of the Mason-Dixon line. In 1947, Harvard’s football team stood with Chester as he made history against the University of Virginia. When Harvard travelled to the South, the southern team expected that Harvard wouldn't bring Chester. There was an unwritten college-football agreement that said when integrated college football teams played schools in the South, they wouldn’t play their black players. The all-white Southern team chose a player of equal talent to sit out the game. When Chester faced the indignities of Jim Crow laws in Virginia, his teammates experienced them with him. Follow Chester! empowers children to learn and experience American history associating how they might feel if a wrong is committed against them and how to join with their friends to make things right.
Respress-Churchwell has self-published Robert Churchwell: Writing News, Making History – A Savannah Green Story (Jabberwocky Books 2014); a historical fiction book based on the life of Robert Churchwell known as the Jackie Robinson of Journalism. Respress-Churchwell produced and directed a documentary about his life that won the Tennessee Tribune award at the Nashville Film Festival. The book and documentary are part of Churchwell’s permanent (displayed) collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Music specifically produced for her books accompanies each of Respress-Churchwell stories to further extend the educational experience to the young reader. She believes the message of the story carries through the music and especially benefits students who learn best from hearing. Respress-Churchwell states, “during my school visits, seeing the smiles and hearing the children sing actual facts from the story is heartwarming. The connection of music is contagious and fun.”
Respress-Churchwell lives in the New England area with her husband and children.
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