Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

Overview

A respected biographer teams up with an acclaimed artist to tell the story of the mail carrier who orchestrated the Great Savannah Boycott — and was instrumental in bringing equality to his community.

"Grow up and be somebody," Westley Wallace Law's grandmother encouraged him as a young boy living in poverty in segregated Savannah, Georgia. Determined to make a difference in his community, W.W. Law assisted blacks in registering to vote, joined the NAACP and trained protestors in the use of nonviolent civil ...

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Overview

A respected biographer teams up with an acclaimed artist to tell the story of the mail carrier who orchestrated the Great Savannah Boycott — and was instrumental in bringing equality to his community.

"Grow up and be somebody," Westley Wallace Law's grandmother encouraged him as a young boy living in poverty in segregated Savannah, Georgia. Determined to make a difference in his community, W.W. Law assisted blacks in registering to vote, joined the NAACP and trained protestors in the use of nonviolent civil disobedience, and, in 1961, led the Great Savannah Boycott. In that famous protest, blacks refused to shop in downtown Savannah. When city leaders finally agreed to declare all of its citizens equal, Savannah became the first city in the south to end racial discrimination.

A lifelong mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, W.W. Law saw fostering communication between blacks and whites as a fundamental part of his job. As this affecting, strikingly illustrated biography makes clear, this "unsung hero" delivered far more than the mail to the citizens of the city he loved.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The late Haskins (The Story of Stevie Wonder) sheds light on a little-known hero of the civil rights movement, Westley Wallace Law. The book begins in 1932: as a child, Law lived with his grandmother in Savannah, Ga., while his mother worked as a live-in housekeeper for a white family. Brief vignettes describe early events that troubled the boy: a saleswoman's condescending attitude toward his grandmother, the city's widespread segregation and the fact that "no matter how hard his mother worked, they were still poor." He promised himself that he would heed his grandmother's prayer that he become "a leader of our people." His early efforts began with helping black people prepare for a test required in order to register to vote. By day delivering mail (the college-educated Westley wanted to be a teacher, but no Savannah school would hire him because he was an NAACP member), Law devoted his free time to organizing anti-segregation campaigns-always emphasizing the need to protest without violence. In an extraordinary achievement largely due to Law's leadership, Savannah became the first Southern U.S. city "to declare all its citizens equal, three years before the federal Civil Rights Act." An afterword chronicles his later public service works. Though Andrews's stylized oil and collage illustrations may be better suited to mood pieces (such as his work in The Hickory Chair; Sky Sash So Blue), than to the real-life events here, he nonetheless endows Law with a sense of stature and poise in the hero's portraits. Ages 5-8. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Delivering Justice, a picture-book biography of Savannah civil rights leader W.W. Law, is the perfect book to share at Kwanzaa—and all year long. The African American holiday, celebrated December 26, encourages the striving for principles such as unity, collective work, purpose and faith. In simple but powerful language, author Jim Haskins describes Law, a man whose very life exemplified those principles. A letter carrier and advocate for the black community, Law helped with voter registration, organized a successful boycott of Savannah's segregated stores and spearheaded preservation of black historical sites. He recognized the importance of history and, according to the book, often said, "If you don't know where you've been, how do you know where you're going?" Benny Andrews' oil-and-collage illustrations capture the look and feel of the late 1950's. The timeless quality of the art and the dignified tone of the book pay tribute to this gentle man who effected so much positive change. 2005, Candlewick, Ages 5 up.
—Mary Quattlebaum
Kirkus Reviews
The story of a boy who grew up to be one of Savannah's Civil Rights leaders is simply told and illustrated with striking oil-and-collage paintings. Jim Crow informed Westley Law's childhood, as he and his family endured the routine humiliation of segregation. From this beginning, he grew up to become a voters' rights activist with the NAACP, an activity that barred him from becoming a teacher; instead, he became a letter carrier, a perfect occupation, it turns out, for a grass-roots organizer. Haskins's understated text is divided into one-spread "chapters," a technique that helps to lead readers through the rather esoteric process of non-violence training and protest-organizing. These "chapters" are paired with Andrews's striking paintings, his elongated forms and elegant verticals underscoring the resoluteness of Law's protesters and the relative peacefulness of the change he was able to effect in Savannah, in dramatic contrast to much of the rest of the South. This pleasing treatment of one man's efforts to bring about seismic change is marred by a lack of documentation of quoted material, but is followed up with a biographical note. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763625924
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/11/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 12.13 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

JIM HASKINS, the author of more than one hundred books, has an unparalleled background in nonfiction for young readers. He received the Coretta Scott King Medal for THE STORY OF STEVIE WONDER, and several other of his titles were named Coretta Scott King Honor Books. What the author most admires about W. W. Law, he says, is "his complete dedication to the causes in which he believed — first equal rights and later the preservation of historic sites of importance to black people. He was truly an unsung hero."

BENNY ANDREWS is a painter, printmaker, cultural leader, and arts advocate. His work can be found in more than thirty major museums. His other books for children include THE HICKORY CHAIR by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, PICTURES FOR MISS JOSIE by Sandra Belton, and SKY SASH SO BLUE by Libby Hathorn. Of DELIVERING JUSTICE he says, "Working on this book was very emotional for me — it was like reliving those times."

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