Remember: The Journey to School Integration

Overview

Toni Morrison has collected a treasure chest of archival photographs that depict the historical events surrounding school desegregation. These unforgettable images serve as the inspiration for Ms. Morrison’s text—a fictional account of the dialogue and emotions of the children who lived during the era of “separate but equal” schooling. Remember is a unique pictorial and narrative journey that introduces children to a watershed period in American history and its relevance to us ...

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Overview

Toni Morrison has collected a treasure chest of archival photographs that depict the historical events surrounding school desegregation. These unforgettable images serve as the inspiration for Ms. Morrison’s text—a fictional account of the dialogue and emotions of the children who lived during the era of “separate but equal” schooling. Remember is a unique pictorial and narrative journey that introduces children to a watershed period in American history and its relevance to us today.
Remember will be published on the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending legal school segregation, handed down on May 17, 1954.

Winner of the 2005 Coretta Scott King Author Award

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges." School Library Journal

"The photos are electrifying. Beautifully reproduced in sepia prints, the archival images humanize the politics of the civil rights movement." Booklist, ALA

"Puts history in context for a new generation of readers." Bookpage

"Beautiful and thorough." Columbus Dispatch

Painful, personal and provocative, [Morrison's] focused visual history serves as a potent catalyst for discussing segregation and integration.
The San Francisco Chronicle

The Washington Post
Morrison uses fictional dialogue to imagine the thoughts and emotions of the subjects in the photos, often with poignant results. The images are familiar, but the feelings Morrison taps into are fresh.—Nia Malika-Henderson
From The Critics
Spare, eloquent text and evocative photos present a child's-eye view of school integration: "The law says I can't go to school with white children ... I am seven years old. Why are they afraid of me?" With each sepia-toned photo, Pulitzer Prize winner Morrison invents a first-person narrative for the children depicted. More than a history lesson, the book inspires empathy for differing perspectives. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
Assembling more than 50 photographs depicting segregation, school scenes and events prior to and following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, Morrison (Who's Got Game?) writes that "because remembering is the mind's first step toward understanding," her book is designed to take readers "on a journey through a time in American life when there was as much hate as there was love." She adds, she has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs to help tell this story." The photographs have a uniformly high impact. Some will be familiar: first-grader Ruby Bridges escorted by U.S. marshals from a newly integrated school; white adults' faces contorted with rage as they heckle black students. Against this disturbing backdrop, perhaps the most striking images are the rare moments of unguarded affection, as when a black girl and a white girl smile candidly at each other in a high school cafeteria. However, it's odd to see words invented for Ruby Bridges, who has told her own story elsewhere, and for other public figures; and not all the imagined words ring true (e.g., beneath a photo of three white teens wearing signs protesting the integration of their high school: "My buddies talked me into this.... These guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they're wrong. Aren't they?"). Odd, too, is the decision to put events that lead up to integration (the bus boycott, lunch counter protests) out of sequential order. In the end, the pairing of the fictional text with the historical photographs poses a problem: how much is the audience asked to "remember" and how much to "imagine"? All ages. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
This title is all about the pictures. Designed to deliver a powerful emotional impact, the book's mesmerizing sepia photos, mostly of children, artfully interspersed with Morrison's brief interpretations, give today's youngsters a glimpse into the 1950s struggle for civil rights. Hatred, yes, but also hope and the beautiful curiosity and empathy of childhood shine forth, strongly reminding readers that good does, eventually, prevail. Dr. King, Rosa Parks, the Warren Supreme Court, and other famous figures are here, but they are secondary to the images of children playing, studying, eating, demonstrating, and finally integrating. Morrison, in her imagery-filled introduction, charges young readers to understand their precious inheritance. She tells how the courtroom battle for decent education led to the elimination of racist laws, and how the struggle was painful, violent, and long. She relates her own experiences in those days and of the kindness of strangers who took her and her fellow students into their homes. "These were country people . . . denied adequate education, relegated to backs of buses and separate water fountains, menial jobs or none," but whose souls were untainted by racial segregation. Key events in civil rights and school integration history as well as detailed photo notes give historical perspective. Dedicated to the four children killed in the Birmingham church in 1963, the book is a "must have" for elementary African American collections and is appropriate for any archival collection. Deliberately published on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, this book is a sparkling gem. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any betterwritten; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Houghton Mifflin, 80p.; Photos. Source Notes. Chronology., $18. Ages 11 to 15.
—Laura Woodruff
Children's Literature
In Morrison's eloquent introduction to this photo-essay, she invites readers to understand the events of the "separate but equal" schools that existed in the 50s and 60s. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the book presents more than 50 black and white archival photographs, many of ordinary young people of the times, juxtaposed with Morrison's thought-provoking comments. The provocative, though limited, text and stark pictures may be useful for teacher-directed class discussions; however, younger children may be confused by some of the narrative accompanying the photographs. Although parts of the text seem to reflect the events surrounding the photographs, others will require explanation. In some pictures, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of the children and encourages the reader to think about how they would feel in the situation. A timeline to the period as well as photo notes are included. This book was awarded the 2005 Coretta Scott King Medal by the American Library Association. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 12.
—Augusta Scattergood
From The Critics
Judging this book by its cover—and its use of a simple classroom photograph, it's obvious wellknown author Toni Morrison will provide a gripping look at the road toward integration. She keeps her words to a powerful minimum, accompanying the stark, black and white archival photographs. The words and photos combine to provide an emotional simplicity to the historyshaping events of the Civil Rights movement. Remember: The Journey to School Integration provides meaningful elements, such as a timeline of important events involving civil rights and integration in the United States and an extensive "Photo Notes" section that serves as an index of the photographs, including a brief note about each of the photos. Morrison's writing offers a fictional account of individuals' questions, thoughts, and dialogue to accompany the photographs, which provide an intense connection for the reader. While the written text may be limited, Morrison's book clearly illustrates the country's emotional upheaval of the time, and yet it demonstrates to young people the impact that period has on contemporary times. Morrison provides a lesson in history that all of us should know. 2004, Houghton Mifflin Co, 78 pp., Ages young adult.
—Lori Atkins Goodson
School Library Journal
Gr 3-8-This unusual blend of archival photographs, historical background, and fictional narrative brings to life the experiences and emotions of the African-American students who made the tumultuous journey to school integration. Dramatic, mostly full-page, black-and-white photographs make up the bulk of the book. An introduction sets the scene, and factual pages, consisting of several sentences, are scattered throughout. They explain the significance of the events, the trauma of racial conflict, the courage and determination of African Americans and their supporters, and the importance of remembering and understanding. With poignant simplicity and insight, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the pictures. The wrenching, inspiring autobiographical school integration memoirs of first-grader Ruby Bridges (Through My Eyes [Scholastic, 1999]) and Little Rock Nine high school junior Melba Pettillo Beals (Warriors Don't Cry [Washington Square, 1995]) offer greater immediacy and convey a powerful message for future generations about the need for understanding, self-awareness, and self-respect. However, Morrison's reflective interpretation presents a gentler guide for younger readers. Appended are a chronology of "Key Events in Civil Rights and School Integration History"; "Photo Notes" that describe the actual date, location, and content of each picture; and a dedication that recalls the four young girls killed in the bombing of their Birmingham, AL, church in 1963. The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Morrison attempts to tell the story of Southern school integration through archival photographs oddly juxtaposed with a confusing narrative. Introductory words explain that Morrison has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs chosen to help tell this story." Unfortunately, it's often difficult to tell who is doing the talking. On one page is a picture of black and white schoolchildren joyfully running out of school together; on the opposite page are white teenagers tipping a car. The text for both pages reads, "Great! Now we can have some fun!" Endnotes place each photo in historic context, but at least one note is inaccurate. Gov. George Wallace closed Huntsville schools, but the note states "integration in Huntsville schools took place without incident." Staying closer to the theme of school integration would have helped keep focus, especially in the later section, essentially a presentation of every civil-rights icon from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King. While it's nice to see familiar photographs collected in one place, the overall feeling of the narrative is confusion. Younger children will need adults to help with interpretation. (timeline, photo notes) (Nonfiction. 8-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618397402
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/17/2004
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 320,472
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is a master storyteller. Her groundbreaking novel Beloved won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. In 1993 she became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ms. Morrison is currently the Robert F. Goheen Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Remember is her first historical work for young people.

Biography

Toni Morrison has been called "black America's best novelist," and her incredible string of imaginative contemporary classics would suggest that she is actually one of America's best novelists regardless of race. Be that as it may, it is indeed difficult to disconnect Morrison's work from racial issues, as they lie at the heart of her most enduring novels.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a milieu Jet magazine described as "mixed and sometimes hostile," Morrison experienced racism firsthand. (When she was still a toddler, her home was set on fire with her family inside.) Yet, her father instilled in her a great sense of dignity, a cultural pride that would permeate her writing. She distinguished herself in school, graduating from Howard and Cornell Universities with bachelor's and master's degrees in English; in addition to her career as a writer, she has taught at several colleges and universities, lectured widely, and worked in publishing.

Morrison made her literary debut in 1970 with The Bluest Eye, the story of a lonely 11-year-old black girl who prays that God will turn her eyes blue, in the naïve belief that this transformation will change her miserable life. As the tale unfolds, her life does change, but in ways almost too tragic and devastating to contemplate. On its publication, the book received mixed reviews; but John Leonard of The New York Times recognized the brilliance of Morrison's writing, describing her prose as "...so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry."

Over time, Morrison's talent became self-evident, and her reputation grew with each successive book. Her second novel, Sula, was nominated for a National Book Award; her third, 1977's Song of Solomon, established her as a true literary force. Shot through with the mythology and African-American folklore that informed Morrison's childhood in Ohio, this contemporary folktale is notable for its blending of supernatural and realistic elements. It was reviewed rapturously and went on win a National Book Critics Circle Award.

The culmination of Morrison's storytelling skills, and the book most often considered her masterpiece, is Beloved. Published in 1987 and inspired by an incident from history, this post-Civil War ghost story tells the story of Sethe, a former runaway slave who murdered her baby daughter rather than condemn her to a life of slavery. Now, 18 years later, Sethe and her family are haunted by the spirit of the dead child. Heartbreaking and harrowing, Beloved grapples with mythic themes of love and loss, family and freedom, grief and guilt, while excavating the tragic, shameful legacy of slavery. The novel so moved Morrison's literary peers that 48 of them signed an open letter published in The New York Times, demanding that she be recognized for this towering achievement. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize; and in 2006, it was selected by The New York Times as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.

In addition to her extraordinary novels, Morrison has also written a play, short stories, a children's book, and copious nonfiction, including essays, reviews, and literary and social criticism. While she has made her name by addressing important African-American themes, her narrative power and epic sweep have won her a wide and diverse audience. She cannot be dismissed as a "black writer" any more than we can shoehorn Faulkner's fiction into "southern literature." Fittingly, she received the Nobel Prize in 1993; perhaps the true power of her impressive body of work is best summed up in the Swedish Academy's citation, which reads: "To Toni Morrison, who, in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Good To Know

Chloe Anthony Wofford chose to publish her first novel under the name Toni Morrison because she believed that Toni was easier to pronounce than Chloe. Morrison later regretted assuming the nom de plume.

In 1986, the first production of Morrison's sole play Dreaming Emmett was staged. The play was based on the story of Emmett Till, a black teen murdered by racists in 1955.

Morrison's prestigious status is not limited to her revered novels or her multitude of awards. She also holds a chair at Princeton University.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Chloe Anthony Wofford (real name)
      Toni Morrison
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lorain, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book has very interesting pictures. The words were few. A 10-year old would like more words.

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