Pulitzer Prize winner McWhorter (Carry Me Home) offers an illuminating, sharply focused look at the individuals behind the most dramatic and defining moments of the civil rights movement. Her introduction takes a personal tone, making her account accessible to young readers, and candidly reveals her perspective on the burgeoning movement as a privileged, white sixth-grader in segregated Birmingham in 1963: "I couldn't tell you then what civil rights meant, but grown-ups sounded so disgusted when they mentioned them that I figured they had to be bad words.... The oppression of African Americans around me did not strike me as having anything to do with my life." Yet nearly two decades of researching and writing this history enabled McWhorter to "cross `the color line' and honor the American heroes who had been on the right side of the revolution." Supplemented by concise, invitingly designed sidebars and photos ranging from appalling to uplifting, the narrative chronicles the people and organizations involved in the battle for freedom. Following a brief prologue, the author devotes a chapter to the fight's major milestones, beginning with the Supreme Court's Brown v. the Board of Education decision and the tragic death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, and including the courageous attempts of the Little Rock Nine and Ruby Bridges to attend newly desegregated schools (the author also describes what they achieved as adults), the anti-segregation efforts of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (cofounded by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, who contributes a foreword to this book) and the pivotal 1963 March on Washington. McWhorter adroitly shapes an emotion-charged, comprehensive account of a defining moment in American history. Ages 9-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
McWhorter, who grew up a privileged white girl in Birmingham during the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, has spent much of her adult life researching and putting into perspective that turbulent time. She integrates the personal and factual in this compelling and hard-hitting history of the movement from the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education decision through the 1968 shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis. Moving chronologically, she details the issues of the people and the organizations spearheading the movement, candidly revealing the internal struggles between the major organizations and the "warts and wrinkles" of the more public figures. The real heroes, though, are the ordinary folk, and especially the children, some named and many unnamed, who kept the movement alive. In the epilogue, she concludes the movement retains its hold on us because it gives America meaning, revealing us at our worst, yet also showing the best of the human spirit, modeling how all peoples can lay claim to their right to the pursuit of happiness. Attractively designed, there are numerous sidebars, reprints of posters and newspaper pages, and many, many photographs, all of which will help the reader understand the era. She never sensationalizes the events, but she does allow emotion into her text. There are suggestions for further reading, but unfortunately there are no source notes. 2004, Scholastic, Ages 10 up.
Gr 5-9-Motivated by her naive, youthful acceptance of racial injustice as a white, privileged child in Birmingham, AL, McWhorter directs her compelling retrospective at readers who likewise may not realize that history swirls around them. After a prologue that describes the emergence and impact of segregation in the United States, chapters follow chronologically, highlighting pivotal events, people, successes, and failures of "The Movement." Against the backdrop of the constitutional and moral struggle between the White House and Southern politicians, the author recounts the flamboyant resilience of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, the battered determination of student leader John Lewis, the nonviolent leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the sacrificial commitment of the Freedom Riders. She also explores J. Edgar Hoover's covert manipulation of the FBI, the power struggle between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the shift from nonviolence to Black Power and urban race riots, and the national political focus on the Vietnam War. Protests, marches, boycotts, and infamous tragedies are sequenced and analyzed as catalysts that fueled the movement. Collections that already own Ellen Levine's Freedom's Children (Putnam, 1993) and James Haskins's Freedom Rides (Hyperion, 1995) will be greatly enhanced by this title. Numerous archival photos add a powerful visual dimension to the text. This engaging, stirring narrative offers a balanced presentation of the heroism and idealism as well as the political turmoil surrounding and within the civil rights movement.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This clear-eyed account of the civil-rights movement's most vicious years should be required reading for anyone who thinks that it all began and ended with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Using her own privileged Birmingham childhood as a springboard, Pulitzer-winner McWhorter sketches in the realities of post-Reconstruction racism in North and South alike, along with the conflicting responses to it embodied by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Then she chronicles horrors and heroism from the violent reactions to Brown v. Board of Education to the chaotic close of the "Poor People's Campaign." But along with detailing the proud accomplishments of the movement's iconic figures, she also points up King's messiah complex and Jesse Jackson's early reputation as an opportunist. She profiles lesser known activists and looks behind the movement's seeming solidarity to its internal dissensions and politics. Illustrated with many of the era's most telling news photos, and enhanced by follow-ups, side portraits, and a manageable, multimedia resource list, this passionate study will take readers a long way toward understanding the enduring, personal meaning that the struggle for racial equality has for everyone. (Nonfiction. 10-15)