The Civil Rights movement is receiving attention from children's writers, much to the surprise of its participants. They don’t see themselves as heroes. When authors seek them out to tell their stories, they are gracious and willing to share, but many seem awe-struck that we really want to know.
MARCHING FOR FREEDOM by Elizabeth Partridge, Viking, 2009.
What if you couldn’t vote? How hard would you work to be able to do that? You’d have to register first. Would you stand in line for days, in the rain, despite rude comments from bystanders, despite the frustrations of rules that changed on some unknown person’s whim? Could you pay retroactive poll taxes? Would you pass the literacy test? While adults worked to overcome the obstacles, children stood with them, some so young they had to cling to their mothers' skirts, bearing the inconveniences, the indignities, and the insecurities of their parents and families.
Elizabeth Partridge is an award winning author whose focus on the march from Selma to Montgomery, known as Bloody Sunday, and the events before and after, grant the reader a bystander point of view. It’s as if we were there.
Nonviolence is an amazing commitment. Partridge interviewed those who stood firm in support of it even though they and their loved ones suffered beatings and endured many stays in jail. The march from Selma to Montgomery is a testament to their courage and endurance.
For my own work on the Civil Rights movement, I’ve been grateful to Joanne Blackmon Bland for guidance. Author Partridge quotes her to conclude this thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written book: “...it was not a black movement–it was a people movement. And the future has to be a people movement, until injustice is stamped out in any form.”
Thoughts to ponder on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.