Tag Archives: civil rights

She Stood for Freedom, The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland













She Stood for Freedom, The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero.  Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, illustrated by Charlotta Janssen
Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2016

In 1952, when Joan, a white girl, saw the dilapidated one-room school for blacks, when her school was a brand-new brick one, she decided, “…she was going to do something about it when she had the chance.”  Joan participated in the civil rights movement, including the Freedom Rides, where she was arrested and sent to prison.  She went to Tougaloo College, a back school, and the state of Mississippi tried to close it down because of Joan.  She met Martin Luther King, participated in Woolworth Sit-Ins and the 1964 March on Washington.  In her life she had been shot at, chased after, and targeted by white people to be killed.  She calls herself an ordinary person.  She encouraged people, “Find a problem, get some friends together, and go fix it.  …you don’t have to change the world… just change your world.”  This inspiring story of a young woman who put herself in danger stood up for civil rights.  It’s a refreshing story of one of the many white people who fought for civil rights in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

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Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement












Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2015
2016 Caldecott Honor Book
2016 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
2016 John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner

Written in free verse poetry this was my introduction to Ms. Hamer, the spirit of the civil rights movement.  I had not heard her story, but the riveting poems brought me into her world and shed light on a person instrumental in both building the movement and holding it together.

Born in 1917, her mother was paid $50 by the plantation owner for producing a future field hand; the money helped them get through the winter as sharecroppers.  Fannie Lou was six when she started picking cotton.  As a child, she never understood why black people were poor and whites were not.  She married, adopted two girls, and when the battle over voting began, took the ‘literacy’ test.  After that, she had to go on the run.  She sustained a severe beating that was to affect her the rest of her life.  Figuring she had nothing to lose, she continued speaking up and singing to inspire others to stand up for themselves.

A well written and inspiring, as well as educational, book.

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Books, 2014
Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Award
Siebert Informational Book Medal
National Book Award 

Written in open verse, Jacqueline Woodson provides a rich view of herself growing up in the 60’s in South Carolina and New York.  In a time where she is still referred to as a colored girl, she takes readers on a leisurely stroll, inviting a deep excitement to swell inside as they digest her phrases, images, dreams, and yearnings.  Walking in her shoes, readers can feel the joy of freedom and the confusion of racism poking at the young girl unable to respond, but knowing it’s wrong, just plain wrong.  Woodson’s writing is vivid, startling, fascinating, and from the heart.  It’s easy to see why she’s won so many writing awards.

A special treat for writers, Woodson walks readers through the inside thoughts of a young writer in the making, including the joy of her first composition notebook well before she could even write.  She shares the secret to her writing—listening—and with each story, she spills delectable foods across the table for readers to taste, savor, and digest.  This is not a book readers will want to breeze through, it is one in which readers will want to linger, contemplate, and experience.  Sure to be an award winner.

Originally published in San Francisco Book Review, December 2014

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The Girl from the Tar Paper School

The Girl from the Tar Paper School
Teri Kanefield
Abrams books for young readers, 2014

This is a delicious, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat story of Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, a story almost lost to history because of the racism of the times.

In Farmville, Virginia, at the age of 15, Barbara launches in her tar paper high school a strike, demanding equal education be offered to the black population.  Secretly she talks to all the kids and enlists the help of a few adult supporters.  Once the strike is launched, at an assembly where she directs everyone what to do, she enlists the help of NAACP and others.  In the onslaught of threats and ‘damage’ done to activists’ property, she persists until NAACP files a petition with the county school board demanding ‘integration of the schools’.  The school board rejects the petition and NAACP files a lawsuit in federal court alleging that segregation was unconstitutional.  This lawsuit is one of the four filed in federal court and that come together to form the Brown v. Board of Education case.  In 1954, three years after the strike at Moton High School, the US Supreme Court renders its decision declaring segregation in schools unconstitutional.  Segregation was a long time coming to the county, however, resulting in a generation of illiterate black students.

An incredible story in its day, it helps readers understand how dangerous it was to try to institute civil rights change in earlier times in the United States.  Fascinating story that will inspire readers.

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Back of the Bus

Back of the Bus
By Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Philomel Books, 2010

Told from the perspective of a young African-American boy sitting in the back of the bus, this book is a fictionalized story of December 1, 1955, the day Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat near the front of the bus and police arrested her.

Author Aaron Reynolds uses a tiger’s eye marble to symbolize how the black population of the day had to ‘hide’ their true selves to live in the ‘white’ society. The young boy, who had been playing with a marble on the bus, was told to put the marble away as more white people boarded the bus and, again, when the commotion began with Ms. Parks. After Rosa Parks is taken to jail, the boy brings out the marble and holds it up declaring he no longer has to hide it. While all children will not understand the symbolism consciously, this is a great story to launch into a discussion on Rosa Parks and civil rights in the ‘60’s.

Floyd Cooper’s illustrations bring a softness to an extremely uncomfortable event, an event that changed the course of the civil rights movement.

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These Hands

These Hands
By Margaret H Mason, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011

I don’t know which I like best, the story, the message or the art, but together These Hands is a moving book that can inspire youngsters to do anything they want. I think it was the art that invited me to get the book.

The story is about a grandfather sharing the story of what his hands do and have done in the course of his lifetime. He moves from teaching the young one to tie his shoes, to playing the ivories, to shuffling cards. The author Margaret H. Mason touches back to the day of civil rights to remind readers of the discrimination experienced at the time, when grandfather’s hands couldn’t do things. Like bake bread (at higher wages). The story moves on to tell how grandfather used his hands to join with other hands to change things, so that the color of a person’s hands that touches bread, no longer matters.

Floyd Cooper, an award-winning artist, uses an oil wash with kneaded erasers to create brown-tone scenes to tell his side of the story. Very inviting, nurturing, comforting.

Golden Kite Honors

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