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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Civil Rights, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 92
1. Just a piece of news!


March: Book Three (March, #3)

The National Book Awards were handed out on Wednesday night.  John Lewis' final entry into his graphic memoir, March: Book Three, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, won the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Here is the School Library Journal article about the book, the prize, the event.

The book is stunning in its timeliness.  We cannot forget the fight for equal rights and equal respect.  And we must continue to uphold the American ideal that all people are created equal.  That's ALL - as in Every Single Person. 

As the banner at my place of worship says, "Love Thy Neighbor - No Exceptions".

PS.  The winner, in books for grown-ups, was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Pay attention, readers. 

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2. Oral history for youth in the age of #BlackLivesMatter

As students in Columbia University’s OHMA program we are often urged to consider Oral History projects that not only serve to archive interviews for future use, but that “do something.”

The post Oral history for youth in the age of #BlackLivesMatter appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen  by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016 Grades 5-12 Carole Boston Weatherford is one of my favorite poets and authors of books for children. Her picture book, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement won many awards and praises last year including a 2016 Sibert

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4. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer:  Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Ekua Holmes Candlewick Press, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-7636-6531-9 Grades 4-12 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. Voice of Freedom is a beautiful tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist and voting rights champion. Fannie Lou Hamer, also known as the

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5. New Shoes, by Susan Lynn Meyer | Book Review

Set in the 1950s during the infamous days of Jim Crow, New Shoes is a story of an African American girl who comes up with a brilliant idea to remedy the far-too-often degrading experience of buying shoes, especially for back-to-school.

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6. Jonah Winter, Author of Lillian’s Right to Vote | Speed Interview

Which five words best describe Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965? America’s racist history surrounds us.

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7. My Writing and Reading Life: Eric Pierpoint

Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood character actor who’s begun a writing career with several screenplays in development. His ancestors came west on the Oregon Trail in the mid 1800s, so Eric and his dog, Joey, followed in their wagon wheel tracks and traveled cross-country researching The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole.

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8. Biographies with girl power

Doesn’t it seem as though many of the biographies written are about men and their accomplishments? Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of admirable men who have changed the world through their daring, innovation, and wisdom. But how about the other half of the world’s population? Women just haven’t gotten the press they deserve. Luckily, biographies today are becoming vastly diverse with the individuals they feature and the fields in which those individuals excel. And that includes some great new biographies about women. Take a look at these three to share with your students (both male and female). The first is for younger students (grades K-3) and the other two are good for upper elementary (grades 4-6):

dear malala standDear Malala, We Stand With You by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International
There have been several books written by, and about, Malala Yousafzai, but this picture book version is unique. It begins with a short biography of Malala and her 2012 shooting by the Taliban for being outspoken about education for girls, and her life in England now. The bulk of the book is a series of exquisite photographs of girls around the world and brief text describing their desire for an education, despite the many social, political, and economic restraints placed on them. The title ends with ways for the reader to help further Malala’s cause.

Girl Tar PaperThe Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield
Barbara Johns, an African American high school student in Virginia in 1951, was appalled at the conditions of the make shift classrooms in their segregated school. Acting well beyond her years, she organized a peaceful walk out, demonstration, and boycott among her senior class to demand new facilities. They were ridiculed by the local school board, government, and police force. The NAACP agreed to take on the case, only if the students changed their demands to full integration. They agreed, and their case contributed to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. The story begins with Barbara’s senior year, and flashes back to her early years, and then beyond. Remarkably, she grew up to become a school librarian! The book is filled with captioned photos, sidebars, quotations, and primary sources. The large font and strong voice makes for a swift read. The concluding author’s note is enlightening, and the timeline, endnotes, and extensive bibliography complete the book.

rad american womenRad American Women A-Z by Kate Shatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
This is a collective biography of 26 women, described as “rebels, trailblazers, and visionaries who shaped our history…and our future” (cover copy). They represent diverse fields, ethnicities, ages, and geographic locations. Beginning with Angela Davis, and ending with Zora Neale Hurston, each biographee’s personality, challenges, and accomplishments are described in engaging text and accompanied by a simple black and white block cut illustration. The book concludes with an end note, a list of “26 Things that you can do to be rad!” (unp.)., and a list of resources.

 

Editor’s note: for many more recommended biographies of women, follow these tags: Biographies; Women’s History

The post Biographies with girl power appeared first on The Horn Book.

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9. How legal history shapes the present

The field of "legal history" studies the relationship that “law” and legal institutions have to the society that surrounds them. "Law” means everything from local regulations and rules promulgated by administrative agencies, to statutes and court decisions. Legal history is interested in how “law” and legal institutions operate, and how they change over time in reaction to changing economic, social, and political conditions.

The post How legal history shapes the present appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Port Chicago 50

I am a Cybils second round judge. I am currently reading the all the nominated books in a fun "armchair readalong" way with the first round judges. My reviews and opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the work of the committee.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights Steve Sheinkin

During WWII, the armed forces were still segregated. Black men who signed up were subjected to segregated mess halls (sometimes eating the cold leftovers of their white counterparts) and barracks, and given the most menial jobs. They were often treated even worse when they were off base.

In the Navy, black sailors were only allowed to be mess attendants when on a ship. They weren’t eligible for promotion. At California’s Port Chicago, they had to load ammunition onto ships. Only black sailors had to do this and they were not given any training on how to properly handle explosives. Their white commanding officers took bets on which Divisions could load the most, creating a hurried and unsafe atmosphere.

On July 17th, 1944, there was an explosion. A small one, then a big one. 320 men died (202 were black men loading ammunition.) Another 390 were injured (mostly due to flying glass when the shock wave blew out windows.) The 1200 foot pier was gone, as were the 2 battle ships being loaded. No one’s entirely sure what happened or why, because anyone who saw it was killed immediately.

On August 9th, the black sailors, some still recovering from their injuries, were told to go back to work loading ammunition. 258 (out of 328) refused, saying they would obey any order but that one. On August 11th, facing mutiny charges, 208 returned to work. The remaining 50 were charged.

The trail was a racist farce and all were found guilty, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, followed by dishonorable discharge. In 1946 their sentences were commuted and eventually all were discharged with honorable conditions (which is better than dishonorable, but not honorable. You can get VA benefits, but not the GI Bill). In 1999, President Clinton pardoned one of the mutineers, but many did not want a pardon--they wanted their convictions overturned.

Today, all of them have passed on. All of them are still convicted of mutiny.

No one will be surprised to hear that once again Steve Sheinkin has written a riveting account of history. It is a great one for WWII or Black History projects, or anyone interested in injustice, legal dramas, or the armed forces. In true Sheinkin fashion, he pulls in many threads--American racism, the Navy and War Department’s unwillingness to challenge that status quo, the personal stories of many of the sailors involved, the story of what was actually happening, and the impact it had in larger society then and today.

One thing I found interesting--Thurgood Marshall is introduced as an NAACP lawyer, working throughout the war to help defend black armed service personnel from racist persecution and injustice. He watched the trial and foughtfor years to appeal. But, it never mentions what Marshall goes on to eventually do. (I mean, it’s not like we all grow up to be Supreme Court Justices.)

There are many photographs throughout the text (unfortunately, a few have been blown up too largely and are pixelated) and I love the trim size--even though it’s written a bit younger than younger than Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weaponor The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, but the trim size should entice older readers to pick it up.

It’s a story that many have sadly forgotten, but Sheinkin’s powerful storytelling will hopefully tell this story to many more readers.


Book Provided by... my local library

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11. The Civil Rights era and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan

In the 1960s, the South, was rife with racial tension. The Supreme Court had just declared, in its landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education, that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and the country was in the midst of a growing Civil Rights Movement. In response to these events, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 20s, when they boasted over four million members. Surprisingly, North Carolina, which had been one of the more progressive Southern states, had the largest and most active Klan membership — greater than the rest of the South combined — earning it the nickname “Klansville, USA”. This slideshow features images from the time of the Civil Rights-era Klan.

Be sure to check out the American Experience documentary Klansville U.S.A. airing Tuesday, 13 January on PBS.

Heading image: The Ku Klux Klan on parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, 1928. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post The Civil Rights era and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. The Ku Klux Klan in history and today

American Experience asked sociologist and Ku Klux Klan scholar David Cunningham to provide responses to the five questions he is most frequently asked about the Klan. The author of Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era KKK, Cunningham is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Brandeis University.

Before discussing the most pressing questions people tend to have about the KKK, let me add some background for basic context. The Ku Klux Klan was first formed in 1866, through the efforts of a small band of Confederate veterans in Tennessee. Quickly expanding from a localized membership, the KKK has become perhaps the most resonant representation of white supremacy and racial terror in the United States. Part of the KKK’s enduring draw is that it refers not to a single organization, but rather to a collection of groups bound by use of now-iconic racist symbols — white hoods, flowing sheets, fiery crosses — and a predilection for vigilante violence. The Klan’s following has tended to rise and fall in cycles often referred to as “waves.” The original KKK incarnation was largely halted following federal legislation targeting Klan-perpetrated violence in the early 1870s. The Klan’s second — and largest — wave peaked in the 1920s, with KKK membership numbering in the millions. Following the second-wave Klan’s dissolution in the early 1940s, self-identified KKK groups also built sizable followings during the 1960s, in reaction to the rising Civil Rights Movement. Various incarnations have continued to mobilize since — often through blended affiliations with neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, and Christian Identity organizations — but in small numbers and without significant impact on mainstream politics.

The American Experience documentary Klansville, U.S.A. focuses on the civil rights-era KKK and tells the story of Bob Jones, the most successful Klan organizer since World War II. Beginning in 1963, Jones took over the North Carolina leadership of the South’s preeminent KKK organization, the United Klans of America, and by 1965 his “Carolina Klan” boasted more than 10,000 members across the state, more than the rest of the South combined. Jones’ story illuminates our understanding of the KKK’s long history generally, and in particular provides a lens to consider the questions that follow.

How big a threat is the KKK in the United States today?

In an important sense, this may be the key question about the KKK and whether we should still worry, or care, about the Klan today. Likely for that reason, literally every discussion I’ve had about the Klan — whether in classrooms, community events, radio interviews, or cocktail parties — comes around to some version of this concern. I typically respond, in short, that a greater number of KKK organizations exist today than at any other point in the group’s long history, but that nearly all of these groups are small, marginal, and lacking in meaningful political or social influence.

KKK preparing a cross to be burned in Jackson County, in SE Ohio, in the fall of 1987. By Paul M. Walsh. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
KKK preparing a cross to be burned in Jackson County, in SE Ohio, in the fall of 1987. By Paul M. Walsh. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I might add two caveats to that reassuring portrait, however. The first is that marginal, isolated extremist cells themselves can become breeding grounds for unpredictable violence. At the peak of his 1960s influence, Bob Jones would often tell reporters that, if they were truly concerned about violence perpetrated by Klan members, their greatest fear should be that he would disband the KKK, leaving individual members to commit mayhem free from the structure imposed by the group. As Jones’ followers committed hundreds of terrorist acts authorized by KKK leadership, his claim was of course disingenuous, but it also contained a grain of truth: Jones and his fellow leaders did dissuade members — many of whom combined rabid racism with unstable aggression — from engaging in violence not approved by the KKK hierarchy. In the absence of a broader organization with much to lose from a crack-down by authorities, racist violence can be much more difficult to prevent or police.

The second caveat stems from KKK’s history of emerging and receding in pronounced “waves.” Between the group’s periods of peak influence — say, during the 1880s, or in the 1940s, or the 1980s — the Klan’s fortunes have always appeared moribund. But in each case, some “reborn” version of the KKK has managed to rebound and survive. So, while today the KKK appears an anachronism and, perhaps, less of a threat than other brands of racist hate, we still should vigilantly oppose racist entrepreneurs who seek to exploit the historical cachet of the KKK to organize new campaigns advancing white supremacist ends. To me, this is one primary lesson from the KKK’s past, and a compelling reason not to forget or dismiss the enduring relevance of that history.

Has the KKK had any lasting political impact?

By most straightforward measures, the KKK appears a failed social movement. Despite the Klan’s political inroads during the 1920s, when millions of its members succeeded in electing hundreds of KKK-backed candidates to local, state, and even federal office, the group proved unable to preserve its influence at the ballot box beyond that decade. Later KKK waves have never been able to deliver on promises to rebuild this influential Klan voting bloc. Bob Jones’ Carolina Klan came the closest to winning such influence, with mainstream candidates currying favor (sometimes publicly, and more often covertly at Klan rallies and other events) with Jones and other leaders in 1964 and 1968. But that effort appeared short-lived, with both Jones and the Carolina Klan all but disappearing by the early 1970s.

More generally, the KKK’s commitment to white supremacy, most clearly realized through Jim Crow-style segregation that endured for decades in the South, has by any formal measure receded as a real possibility in the United States. However, in less overt ways, the KKK’s impact can still be felt. Recent studies that I’ve undertaken with fellow sociologists Rory McVeigh and Justin Farrell have demonstrated how counties in which the KKK was active during the 1960s differ from those in which the Klan never gained a foothold in two important ways.

First, counties in which the Klan was present during the civil rights era continue to exhibit higher rates of violent crime. This difference endures even 40 years after the movement itself disappeared, and certainly isn’t explained by the fact that former Klansmen themselves commit more crimes. Instead, the Klan’s impact operates more broadly, through the corrosive effect that organized vigilantism has on the overall community. By flouting law and order, a culture of vigilantism calls into question the legitimacy of established authorities and weakens bonds that normally serve to maintain respect and order among community members. Once fractured, such bonds are difficult to repair, which explains why even today we see elevated rates of violent crime in former KKK strongholds.

Second, past Klan presence also helps to explain the most significant shift in regional voting patterns since 1950: the South’s pronounced move toward the Republican Party. While support for Republican candidates has grown region-wide since the 1960s, we find that such shifts have been significantly more pronounced in areas in which the KKK was active. The Klan helped to produce this effect by encouraging voters to move away from Democratic candidates who were increasingly supporting civil rights reforms, and also by pushing racial conflicts to the fore and more clearly aligning those issues with party platforms. As a result, by the 1990s, racially-conservative attitudes among southerners strongly correlates with Republican support, but only in areas where the KKK had been active.

Is the KKK a movement mostly in the rural South?

While many of the Klan’s most infamous acts of deadly violence — including the 1964 Freedom Summer killings, the 1965 murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, and the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald that led to the 1987 lawsuit that ultimately put the United Klans of America out of business for good — occurred in the Deep South, during the 1920s the KKK was truly a national movement, with urban centers like Detroit, Portland, Denver, and Indianapolis boasting tens of thousands of members and significant political influence.

Even in the 1960s, when the KKK’s public persona seemed synonymous with Mississippi and Alabama, more dues-paying Klan members resided in North Carolina than the rest of the South combined. KKK leaders found the Tar Heel State fertile recruiting ground, despite — or perhaps because of — the state’s progressive image, which enabled the Klan to claim that they were the only group that would defend white North Carolinians against rising civil rights pressures. While this message resonated in rural areas across the state’s eastern coastal plain, the KKK built a significant following in cities like Greensboro and Raleigh as well.

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports active KKK groups in 41 states, though nearly all of those groups remain marginal with tiny memberships. So, while the KKK originated after the Civil War as a distinctly southern effort to preserve the antebellum racial order, its presence has extended well beyond that region throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Why do KKK members wear white hoods and burn crosses?

Some of the most recognizable Klan symbols date back to the group’s origins following the Civil War. The KKK’s white hoods and robes evolved from early efforts to pose as ghosts or “spectral” figures, drawing on then-resonant symbols in folklore to play “pranks” against African-Americans and others. Such tricks quickly took on more politically sinister overtones, as sheeted Klansmen would commonly terrorize their targets, using hoods and masks to disguise their identities when carrying out acts of violence under the cover of darkness.

Birth of a Nation theatrical poster. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Birth of a Nation theatrical poster. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Fiery crosses, perhaps the Klan’s most resonant symbol, have a more surprising history. No documented cross burnings occurred during the first Klan wave in the 19th century. However, D.W. Griffith’s epic 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, which adapted Thomas F. Dixon, Jr.’s novels The Clansman and The Leopard’s Spots to portray the KKK as heroic defenders of the Old South and white womanhood generally, drew on material from The Clansman to depict a cross-burning scene. The symbol was quickly appropriated by opportunistic KKK leaders to help spur the group’s subsequent “rebirth.”

Through the 1960s, Klan leaders regularly depicted the cross as embodying the KKK’s Christian roots — a means to spread the light of Jesus into the countryside. A bestselling 45rpm record put out by United Klans of America included the Carolina Klan’s Bob Jones reciting how the fiery cross served as a “symbol of sacrifice and service, and a sign of the Christian Religion sanctified and made holy nearly 19 centuries ago, by the suffering and blood of 50 million martyrs who died in the most holy faith.” He emphasized cross burnings as “driv[ing] away darkness and gloom… by the fire of the Cross we mean to purify and cleanse our virtues by the fire on His Sword.” Such grandiose rhetoric, of course, could not dispel the reality that the KKK frequently deployed burning crosses as a means of terror and intimidation, and also as a spectacle to draw supporters and curious onlookers to their nightly rallies, which always climaxed with the ritualized burning of a cross that often extended 60 or 70 feet into the sky.

Has the KKK always functioned as a violent terrorist group?

The KKK’s emphasis on violence and intimidation as a means to defend its white supremacist ends has been the primary constant across its various “waves.” Given the group’s brutal history, validating Klan apologists who minimize the group’s terroristic legacy makes little sense. However, during the periods of peak KKK successes in both the 1920s and 1960s, when Klan organizations were often significant presences in many communities, their appeal was predicated on connecting the KKK to varied aspects of members’ and supporters’ lives.

Such efforts meant that, in the 1920s, alongside the KKK’s political campaigns, members also marched in parades with Klan floats, pursued civic campaigns to support temperance, public education, and child welfare, and hosted a range of social events alongside women’s and youth Klan auxiliary groups. Similarly, during the civil rights era, many were drawn to the KKK’s militance, but also to leaders’ promises to offer members “racially pure” weekend fish frys, turkey shoots, dances, and life insurance plans. In this sense, the Klan served as an “authentically white” social and civic outlet, seeking to insulate members from a changing broader world.

The Klan’s undoing in both of these eras related in part to Klan leaders’ inability to maintain the delicate balancing act between such civic and social initiatives and the group’s association with violence and racial terror. Indeed, in the absence of the latter, the Klan’s emphasis on secrecy and ritual would have lost much of its nefarious mystique, but KKK-style lawlessness frequently went hand-in-hand with corruption among its own leaders. More importantly, Klan violence also often resulted in a backlash against the group, both from authorities and among the broader public.

This article first appeared on PBS American Experience.

Heading image: Altar with K eagle in black robe at a meeting of nearly 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members from Chicago and northern Illinois. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post The Ku Klux Klan in history and today appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Why You Should See Selma

In celebration of MLK Day today, we wanted to share two perspectives from Lee & Low staff members on why you should see Selma, the new movie based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Much has been said about the lack of Academy Award nominations for the movie, but nevertheless moviegoers are uniformly in agreement that Selma is one of the best movies of the year. It offers a meaningful historical context for current events and a springboard for deep discussion, making it a valuable learning experience as well as a straight-up great movie.

Here’s why we think seeing Selma is one of the best ways you could spend MLK Day:

Jason Low, Publisher: The director of Selma, Ava DuVernay brings the audience a lean, gritty fight for voter rights during the civil rights movement. The depiction of Martin Luther King, Jr. is especially poignant. The name Martin Luther King, Jr. is a household name and a holiday. His name is the stuff of legend. But what many fail to realize is that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man with faults and insecurities just like everyone else. The film does not shy away from King’s marital problems caused by his infidelities or self-doubt and indecision resulting from the battle fatigue and weight of leadership when so much is on the line. DuVernay’s King is so human that we fear for his life even during the quieter scenes because humans are vulnerable and these were dangerous times.

still from Selma
still from Selma

Conversations between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. are riveting. The political needle was just as difficult to move in 1965 as it is today. The Voter Rights Bill was as messy an issue as any US president would have to face. The bill was steeped in violence and racism and Johnson’s instinct to postpone action was derailed when John Lewis and Reverend Hosea Williams tried to lead a march of six hundred protestors over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The nonviolent protestors were savagely beaten by state police and news cameras captured a brutal, bloody war for all Americans to see.

I brought my family to see this film. Bearing witness to the bravery it takes to protest nonviolently for equal rights was (to me) the chance to see history at its most heroic. Although fifty years has passed since Selma took place, the film feels eerily current. Protests over police killings of unarmed black males are happening all over the country and continue to be front-page news. Watching a film like Selma is difficult, but all the more reason to see it. Great movies will move you, make you feel something and Selma does all of these things very deeply.

Rebecca Garcia, Marketing and Publicity Assistant: During Common’s acceptance speech for the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, he said, “Selma is now.” Even though the Selma to Montgomery Marches were fifty years ago, this film reminded me that the Civil Rights Movement was a hard battle and took a long time to take effect.

David Oyelowo does an excellent job as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King in this movie struggles with self-doubt, isn’t the perfect husband, and even makes decisions that have other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement question his leadership skills. But this is the Dr. King we all need to see. He’s human and flawed, but is still inspiring and courageous.

While watching the movie, I was reminded of the many protests happening around the country in the wake of the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury decisions. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change is an arduous and bitterly long process. Selma serves as a reminder of what has been accomplished and what we still need to accomplish. Selma doesn’t hold back when it comes to the violence faced by protesters.

Ava DuVernay presents us with a flawed, realistic and ultimately human Dr. King. While David Oyelowo does amazing justice to Dr. King, I felt that the talented actresses in the movie (Carmen Ejobo, Oprah Winfrey, and Lorraine Toussaint to name a few) weren’t utilized to their full potential. Even so, Selma is a relevant and timely film that everyone should see. Take tissues with you.

John Lewis in the Lead cover
buy “John Lewis in the Lead”

Additional Resources:

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement

Free tickets to see Selma for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students

Essay about challenges to the historical accuracy of Selma

Did you see Selma? What did you think?

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14. Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper | Book Review

Stella by Starlight, by esteemed storyteller Sharon M. Draper, is a poignant novel that beautifully captures the depth and complexities within individuals, a community, and society in 1932, an era when segregation and poverty is at the forefront.

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15. Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month

February is African American History Month. Sharing these books with young readers comes with the responsibility to discuss ... progress towards equality.

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16. Turning Fifteen On The Road to Freedom

Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom: my story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March By Lynda Blackmon Lowery; as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley; Illustrated by PJ Loughran Dial Books. 2015 ISBN: 9780803741232 I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. Grades 4 thru 12 <!--[if gte mso 9]> 0 false 18

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17. The Case for Loving by Selina Alko

The Case for Loving: the fight for interracial marriage By Selina Alko; Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko Arthur A. Levine Books: an imprint of Scholastic, Inc. 2015 ISBN: 9780545478533 Grades 5 thru 12. I borrowed this book from my local public library. Richard Loving was a caring man; he didn’t see differences.                              There was one person Richard loved

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18. Beyond immigration detention: The European Court of Human Rights on migrant rights

Over 30,000 migrants, including rape and torture victims, are detained in the UK in the course of a year, a third of them for over 28 days. Some detainees remain incarcerated for years, as Britain does not set a time limit to immigration detention (the only country in the European Union not to do so). No detainee is ever told how long his or her detention will last, for nobody knows. It can be days, it can be years.

The post Beyond immigration detention: The European Court of Human Rights on migrant rights appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch written by Chris Barton; illustrated by Don Tate

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch Written by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Don Tate Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 2015 ISBN: 9780802853790 Grades 4-8 I received a copy of this book from the publisher. <!--[if gte mso 9]> <![

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20. Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights   by Ann Bausum Viking-an imprint of Penguin, 2015 ISBN: 9780670016792 Grades 9-12 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. Ann Bausum is known for writing nonfiction books about civil rights and social justice. Her latest book for teens, Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights, describes how the Stonewall

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21. Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13


WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13 to honor Black people "held to serve or labor" who built it.

I recently read how the contributions of Black people "held to serve or labor" involved in building the White House have yet to be acknowledged in a real meaningful way. Although President Obama mentioned this in his remarks during the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery and First Lady Obama mentioned it as well, we think something more significant is needed.
August 13, 2015, marks 95 years since the designation of the colors Red, Black and Green as symbolizing Black people. This was done as part of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World on August 13, 1920.
For years, the Empire State Building has been lit Red, Black and Green to honor Dr. King, on his birthday. Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13, 2015, to honor the unpaid labor.

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22. Brown Girl Dreaming

Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.

Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls.  Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.

Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming.  And, I'll pose a question on memoirs in children's literature.

First, the links:

And now something to ponder:

As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment - excessive page requirements,  narrow specifications, etc.

Obviously, a best choice for a children's book is one written by a noted children's author. Sadly, many (by no means all!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors.  Rare is the author of young people's literature who writes an autobiography for children as Ms. Woodson has done.  When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author's childhood years.  This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person's lifetime.  Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead, and Gary Paulsen's, How Angel Peterson Got his Name also comes to mind as a stellar example.  These books, however, don't often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.

I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable?  I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn't fit the mold.  If we want students to be critical thinkers, it's time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.



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23. How Malcolm X’s visit to the Oxford Union is relevant today

Fifty years ago today, a most unlikely figure was called to speak at the Oxford Union Debating Society: Mr. Malcolm X. The Union, with its historic chamber modeled on the House of Commons, was the political training ground for the scions of the British establishment. Malcolm X, by contrast, had become a global icon of black militancy, with a reputation as a dangerous Black Muslim. The visit seemed something of an awkward pairing. Malcolm X encountered a hotel receptionist who tried to make him write his name in full in the guest book (she had never heard of him), sat through a bow tie silver service dinner ahead of the debate, and had to listen to a conservative debating opponent accuse him of being a racist on a par with the Prime Minister of South Africa. A closer look at the event, though, reveals the pairing of Malcolm X and the Oxford Union to be a good fit — and reveals much about the issues of race and rights then, and now.

From the perspective of the Oxford Union, a controversial speaker was an entirely good thing. The BBC covered Malcolm X’s costs and broadcast the debate. In late 1964, though, Malcolm X also spoke to student concerns about race equality. For many years, the British media’s (sympathetic) coverage of anti-racist protests in the American South and South Africa gave the impression that racial discrimination was chiefly to be found elsewhere. A bitter election which turned on anti-immigration sentiment in late 1964 in Smethwick, in the English midlands, with its infamous slogan, “If you want a n***** for you neighbour, vote Labour,” exposed the virulence of the race issue in Britain, too. Students followed this news abroad and at home. Some visited “racial hotspots” in person. Others joined demonstrations in solidarity. Still, on the surface, such issues seemed a world away from Oxford’s dreaming spires.

But some students in Oxford were also grappling with the question of race in their own institution. The Union President, Eric Antony Abrahams, was a Jamaican Rhodes Scholar, who had vowed to his sister in his first week that he would “fill the Union chamber with blacks.” Abrahams was part of a growing cohort of students from newly independent nations who studied in Britain, many of whom called for changes in curriculum and representation. Three days before Malcolm X arrived, Oxford students released a report showing that more than half of University landladies in the city refused to accept students of color. The University had an official policy of non-discrimination, but the fact that many landladies turned down black applicants in practice had been a running sore for years. The report, and Malcolm X’s visit, brought the matter to public attention. Student activism ultimately forced a change in practice, part of a nationwide series of protests against the unofficial color-bar in many British lodgings. At a time when Ferguson is rightly at the forefront of the news, events in Oxford in 1964 remind us that atrocities elsewhere should serve as a prompt to address, rather than a reason to ignore, questions of rights and representation nearer to home.

Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on March 26, 1964. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on 26 March 1964. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

For Malcolm X, coming to Oxford was an exciting challenge. He loved pitting his wits against the brightest and the best. As chance would have it, as Prisoner 22843 in the Norfolk Penal Colony in Massachusetts, he may well have debated against a visiting team from Oxford. More germane, though, was Malcolm’s desire in what turned out to be the final year of his life to place the black freedom struggle in America within the global context of human rights. He had spent the better part of 1964 in the Middle East and Africa. In each stop along his dizzying itinerary of states, he attempted to build support for international opposition to racial discrimination in America. Malcolm’s visits to Europe in late 1964 were no different. But it was Oxford that afforded him the opportunity to broadcast his views before his widest single audience yet. Citing the recent murders of civil rights activists in Mississippi, Malcolm X told his audience: “In that country, where I am from, still our lives are not worth two cents.”

At a time when cities across the United States have recently braced themselves against the threat of rebellion in the aftermath of the acquittal of Michael Brown’s killer, it is hard not to conclude that for many African Americans, Malcolm’s words at Oxford continue to haunt the nation. Indeed, by placing the civil rights movement in broad relief internationally, Malcolm sought to link the fate of African Americans with West Indians, Pakistanis, West Africans, Indians, and others, seeking their own justice in the capitals and banlieus of Europe. Emphasizing the independence of this new emergent world both within and outside of the confines of Europe, Malcolm hoped that the “time of revolution” his audience was living in would in part be defined by a broader sense of what it meant to be human. There could no longer be distinctions between “black” and “white” deaths — despite his condemnation of the media for continuing to indulge such distinctions.

The post How Malcolm X’s visit to the Oxford Union is relevant today appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Because They Marched

I am a Cybils second round judge. I am currently reading the all the nominated books in a fun "armchair readalong" way with the first round judges. My reviews and opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the work of the committee.

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America Russell Freedman

This title looks at the Selma voting rights Marches, culminating in the Selma to Montgomery march. It talks about Jim Crow, and the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I greatly appreciated the epilogue that looks at how key provisions have recently been struck down, and what the means.
I am a huge Freedman fan and he consistently creates books that are beautiful and informative.

This one, however, falls short of expectations. For one, I’m not sure what Holiday House was thinking, but I’m used to Freedman’s books being printed on a heavy gloss paper and this one’s not. I’m surprised by how big of a difference this makes, but it does.

It does retain that classic Freedman style of lots of large photographs, but all the text is black-on-white and some of the more beautiful design that we’ve come to expect is missing.

Now that would be ok if the text was amazing, but it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s perfectly serviceable, but I’m used to finding his writing engrossing even when he’s covering topics I know well.

There is nothing wrong with this book per se, but there’s also not a lot right with it when you compare it to his other works, or even better treatments on the same subject (it’s going to be really hard to find a book on Selma that’s better than Marching for Freedom)

Overall, a resounding “meh” which is disappointing for someone like Freedman.



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25. The Port Chicago 50 - a review


Sheinkin, Steve. 2014. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. New York: Roaring Brook.

The Port Chicago 50, as they became known, were a group of African American Navy sailors assigned to load munitions at Port Chicago in California, during WWII.  The sailors' work detail options were limited; the Navy was segregated and Blacks were not permitted to fight at sea. The sailors worked around the clock, racing to load ammunition on ships headed to battle in the Pacific. Sailors had little training and were pressured to load the dangerous cargo as quickly as possible.

After an explosion at the port killed 320 men, injured many others, and obliterated the docks and ships anchored there, many men initially refused to continue working under the same dangerous conditions. In the end, fifty men disobeyed the direct order to return to work. They were tried for mutiny in a case with far-reaching implications.  There was more at stake than the Naval careers of fifty sailors.  At issue were the Navy's (and the country's) policy of segregation, and the racist treatment of the Black sailors.  Years before the Civil Rights movement began, the case of the Port Chicago 50 drew the attention of the NAACP, a young Thurgood Marshall, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Through the words of the young sailors, the reader of The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights relives a slice of history as a Black sailor in 1944.

Steven Sheinkin combines excellently researched source materials, a little-known, compelling story, and an accessible writing style to craft another nonfiction gem.

Read an excerpt of The Port Chicago 50 here.

Contains:
  • Table of Contents
  • Source Notes
  • List of Works Cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Picture Credits
  • Index
See today's Nonfiction Monday roundup at http://nonfictionmonday.wordpress.com 



Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher.



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