The School is Not White!: A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement

Overview

All they wanted was to learn. In Drew, Mississippi, in 1965, the schools were still segregated. The "all-black" schools were separate and unequal to "white" schools, lacking resources and support from the government. The Carters, a family of sharecroppers, had had enough. Mae Bertha and Matthew wanted their children to have an equal opportunity for a good education. So they sent their kids to the "all-white" schools.Teasing, death threats, and rebuking followed-from the white children and the white adults and ...
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Overview

All they wanted was to learn. In Drew, Mississippi, in 1965, the schools were still segregated. The "all-black" schools were separate and unequal to "white" schools, lacking resources and support from the government. The Carters, a family of sharecroppers, had had enough. Mae Bertha and Matthew wanted their children to have an equal opportunity for a good education. So they sent their kids to the "all-white" schools.Teasing, death threats, and rebuking followed-from the white children and the white adults and teachers. It was not easy to be black and wage a fight for equality, but that's just what the Carters did. Their faith in a higher power and in the goodness of people helped them battle through ignorance and prejudice. As President John F. Kennedy said, "When Americans are sent to war, we do not ask for whites only. American students of any color should be able to attend any school." For the Carters, it would be the fight of their lives.This is a true story of faith, courage, and honor: qualities Americans of any color can learn from the Carters.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rappaport (Martin's Big Words) relays the wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of one brave black family in rural Mississippi in the 1960s. Sharecroppers on a cotton plantation, Mae Bertha and Matthew Carter believed that "a good education would get their children out of the cotton fields." In 1965, under a new federal law, the Carters enrolled their children in a superior all-white school, a move that cost them their jobs and their home. When the white plantation overseer orders the Carter parents to withdraw their offspring from the school, Mae Bertha plays a recording of President Kennedy's words, which Rappaport rather cryptically paraphrases ("When Americans are sent to war, we do not ask for whites only. American students of any color should be able to attend any school they select without having to be backed up by troops"). On the first day of school, the Carter parents "watched their seven children go off to war in a shiny yellow school bus." At once spare and hard-hitting, the narrative exposes the prejudice the young Carters endured from peers and adults alike. Yet guided by their parents, the siblings persevered. Though the characters at times have curiously indistinct facial features, James's (Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone) chalk pastels effectively capture the tale's intense emotion. An epilogue further carries the Carters' message of courage and hope. All ages. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Doreen Rappaport uses a rhythmic, image-filled style to portray a real family's fight for fairness in this title. Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter, 1965 Mississippi sharecroppers, know education is the way out of the cotton fields. Though threatening overseers and rifle shots pierce the walls and windows of their house, the Carters hold their children until their "trembling bodies quieted down," then send seven "off to war" at an all-white school "armed only with love." Prayer, love, and unwillingness to back down show the courage and resolve of one family that epitomizes the acts of many. Curtis James' chalk pastel illustrations record endless rows of cotton and angry faces, as well as the strong emotions of this family. 2005, Hyperion, Ages 7 up.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-This book tells the story of an African-American family in Mississippi in 1965. The author calls them "not-yet-celebrated" Americans and recounts their pursuit of an equal education at the beginning of desegregation. When the Carters make the unpopular and risky decision to send their seven children to an all-white school with better resources for students, they face many obstacles both inside and outside the building. Rappaport emphasizes the family's determination and perseverance, especially the mother, Mae Bertha Carter, who tells her children that "the school is not white" and that they have every right to an education. The chalk-and-pastel illustrations are somber and realistic with moments of brightness that seem symbolic of hope. The Carters are injured, but they are not broken. Students will need some background information in order to fully appreciate this text. Teachers will find the book to be a useful resource for helping children to see how history does, in fact, include ordinary people. The author has included notes about how this book took shape through her own questions about the past. In addition, she provides an epilogue about the Carter children as successful adults.-Holly T. Sneeringer, University of Maryland, Baltimore Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 1965, schools in Drew, Miss. remained strictly segregated in spite of the 11-year-old Supreme Court decision declaring segregation unconstitutional. Bertha and Matthew Carter decided to enroll their children in the all-white schools. For years afterward, they dealt with the loss of their livelihood, daily taunts and humiliations and violence. The struggle finally eased a little when a few more black children enrolled in the white schools. Rappaport is careful to use documented facts and dialogue to impart the loneliness, courage and determination of this remarkable, extraordinary family. James's strong, heavily outlined illustrations emphasize the powerful family dynamics in the face of hatred. Nevertheless, there is something lacking. Its determined simplicity expunges much information from the text; questions will surely follow. Many additional interesting details are found in the introduction, author's note and most especially in the Carter Family History. Intended for all ages, the youngest readers will need the guidance of adults in understanding the work as a complete entity. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786818389
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: AD850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.75 (w) x 11.37 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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