Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Commemorating the historic march to Selma

Because They Marched; the people's campaign for voting rights by Russell Freedman. Holiday House, 2014. $20.00. 

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

(Thanks to Ronna Mandel of Good Reads with Ronna for letting me review this book for her blog and keep the copy for my library).

Nearly fifty years ago, on March 21, 1965, three thousand people, black and white, Christian and Jew, young and old, began a five day march from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama) to secure voting rights for black people. Although this was not their first attempt, it was highly successful. A judge’s ruling that the march was constitutional and the presence of the Alabama National Guard,  paved the way and protected the marchers from police (and segregationists) brutality. By the time the marchers reached Montgomery, their numbers had swelled to 25,00. Nothing, not even Klan blockades, could squelch their courage and spirit.  

The impact of this march was immediate, Congress approved the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and, by the following summer, 9,000 blacks in Dallas county had registered to vote.

In a clear and compelling narrative,  Freedman places the march and preceding events  in the context of a society that lived under oppressive “Jim Crow” laws, which effectively legalized and enforced segregation. Accompanied by powerful and dramatic, black and white photos, young readers will easily grasp the challenges and the dangers black people faced in demonstrating for their democratic rights, especially the right to vote. The well-chosen photos further underscore the marcher’s courage and passion in the face of horrific violence and give readers a sense of immediacy, even fifty years after the event.

Highly recommended as a valuable resource in helping young readers understand the profound impact that the Civil Rights Movement had on our country’s political and cultural history. It is also recommended as a powerful and moving tribute to the courage and determination of a people, who sacrificed dearly to obtain for democratic rights-for all.

The book includes a timeline, source notes, and a selected bibliography.

Kirkus gave this a starred review and named it one of the “Best Books of 2014.”
Find an excerpt of this book at Holiday House along with excellent valuable CCSS and teaching resources.

Read more about the author at the  National Endowment for the Humanities and see a Library of Congress webcast featuring Russell Freedman.

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