Birmingham 1963

Birmingham 1963

by Carole Boston Weatherford
     
 

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A poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs

Overview


A poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs and water cannons. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which served as a meeting place for civil rights organizers. The explosion killed four little girls. Their murders shocked the nation and turned the tide in the struggle for equality. A Jane Addams Children's Honor Book, here is a book that captures the heartbreak of that day, as seen through the eyes of a fictional witness. Archival photographs with poignant text written in free verse offer a powerful tribute to the young victims.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 4-8
In understated free verse, an unnamed, fictional girl narrates the events that preceded the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. She relates how she marched with other children to protest white-only lunch counters, went to the Lincoln Memorial to hear King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and was present at the church when "Someone tucked a bundle of dynamite/Under the church steps, then lit the fuse of hate." The format of the book is small, and it makes the reading experience of an enormously tragic event an intimate experience. The poetic text appears on light-gray pages with photos of childhood objects, like shoes, barrettes, or birthday candles. The fateful Sunday is the narrator's birthday; she states, "The day I turned ten,/There was no birthday cake with candles;/Just cinders, ash, and a wish I were still nine." Opposite are full-page archival black-and-white photographs (which are cited in the back matter). The color palette is white, gray, and black, with enigmatic red design elements that appear on the pages of print. The book includes a section called "in memoriam" in which the four young girls who died in the bombing are profiled. The author's note provides additional historical background, and the end matter includes a list of photo citations. An emotional read, made even more accessible and powerful by the viewpoint of the child narrator.
—Jennifer RalstonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Exquisitely understated design lends visual potency to a searing poetic evocation of the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. The unnamed fictional narrator relates the events of "[t]he year I turned ten," this refrain introducing such domestic commonplaces as her first sip of coffee and "doz[ing] on Mama's shoulder" at church. She juxtaposes these against the momentous events of the year: the Children's March in Birmingham for which the narrator missed school, the March on Washington and the mass meetings at church that she found so soporific. The same matter-of-fact tone continues to relate what happened "[t]he day I turned ten:" "10:22 a.m. The clock stopped, and Jesus' face / Was blown out of the only stained-glass window / Left standing. . . . " Documentary gray dominates the palette, the only color angry streaks of red that evoke shattered window frames. The poems appear on recto accompanied by images of childhood-patent-leather shoes, pencils, bobby socks-while full-bleed archival photographs face them on verso. It's a gorgeous memorial to the four killed on that horrible day, and to the thousands of children who braved violence to help change the world. (Poetry. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590784402
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
09/28/2007
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
544,135
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Lexile:
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author


Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning poet and author of over two dozen books for children, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom and Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins. She has won the Carter G. Woodson Award from the National Council for the Social Studies and the Juvenile Literature Award from the American Association of University Women-North Carolina.

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