Using striking historical photographs, Levinson’s work describes the 1963 Birmingham children’s march, in which thousands of school-aged children skipped class in order to be arrested for their cause. Though the Civil Rights Movement was eventually successful, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists initially experienced difficulty in motivating adult citizens to act for the cause. The solution: to allow children to protest and be arrested on behalf of the movement. Certainly a controversial decision, the use of children to advance the cause spurred adults into action and allowed the movement to gain the momentum it needed to succeed. Through her recounting of the event, Levinson’s work demonstrates that even young people can change the world.
As I’ve only read about the major events of the Civil Rights Movement, I was not too familiar with the Birmingham Children’s March. I also did not know that Dr. King’s initial movement was largely unsuccessful, as he and other activists were having a hard time convincing adults to join in. According to this book, it is only because the children took a stand that the movement really took a foothold. What I like best about this book is that it illustrates the power children and young adults can wield if they work together. While I’m not encouraging anyone to go to jail, I do believe in taking a strong stance for something you believe in (a strong, nonviolent stance). With civil rights once more taking center stage, this may be a good book for you to try if you are looking for something historical. You may even see some strong similarities in the book to modern events!
*IRA Young Adult Nonfiction Award, 2013
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