Customer Reviews for

Bessie Smith and the Night Riders

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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  • Posted February 4, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    This book was beautifully written. It shows the courage of Bessie Smith standing up to the KKK clan by herself. The KKK clan were trying to burn down the tent she was singing in. The men that were with her ran when they saw the KKK clan but Bessie stood her ground. This is a true story.

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    I am currently a librarian employed by the state of Florida and

    I am currently a librarian employed by the state of Florida and I
    recently saw this book added to our stacks. While I realize this book is
    supposed to be slightly historical, I was fairly offended by the
    portrail of most of the characters in the story. Since this is likely a
    child's first introduction to racial problems, it could be potential
    hate mongering. It made me feel that a child will automatically
    associate any white person with the Ku Klux Klan and that off the bat,
    everyone is going to hate the child simply for being black. Being white
    and from the south, I have seen my fair share of racial issues, but most
    of the racial problems in our country are from things like this that
    introduce impressionable children to hate that they don't need to know
    about till they are ready to understand that most people are not like
    the ones in the book. We have recently pulled the book from our picture
    book stacks because we feel that it is too violent and has too much
    adult content for young children. It is being moved to adult non-fiction
    so that adults can show it to their children at their own discretion.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Bessie Smith was called the Empress of the Blues. She had an amazing voice, so remarkable that her first recording, which was made in 1925, sold over a million copies. Quite a number for that day and time. Considering all of this, it's no wonder that a little girl would idolize her. Emmarene Johnson was just such a little girl, and when Bessie came to her hometown of Concord this particular girl simply had to see her. Emmarene had no money so she sneaked out to the edge of town where Bessie was performing, pulled back a tent flap, and couldn't believe her eyes. There was Bessie in a pink dress, waving her feather boa and singing, 'Whoa, Tillie, Take Your Time.' As it turned out, many were fortunate that Emmarene was outside the tent that night because she saw the Night Riders approaching on horseback. It was 1927 and the Ku Klux Klan was terrorizing Southern blacks and white sympathizers. Since the Klan committed most of their despicable deeds at night, their nickname was Night Riders. Nonetheless, Emmarene was terrified knowing that the Klan had come to harm Bessie. She crept inside the tent and told Bessie the Night Riders were there. Then, as Emmarene says, 'Some folks run from trouble. Not Bessie. She headed right past me and toward the opening of the tent.' This lone woman marched right up to the men on horseback to hear one shout, 'Y'all best get ready to meet your maker.' That didn't stop Bessie. First she swore, and then she told them to pick up their sheets and run. With that she started flapping her arms about, uttered one of her famous low moans, and spooked the horses. Torches started falling on the ground and the men took off. While the story is based on a true incident, author Stauffacher has dramatized it for young readers, providing a valuable lesson in courage and the ability to stand up for what is right. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke

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