While January's Snowpocalypse canceled our Genre Reading Group meeting last month, the readers are still eager to share the great material they read, watched, and listened to for the meeting so we had an impromptu email meeting. Here's a list, with reader descriptions included where I received them!
Alabama Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom by Frye Gaillard (2010)
(Reader's description) The book tells you about areas throughout the state that have something historic about the civil right. There are pictures and details on how to get to the sites. For example: Lowndes County has a Blank Panther symbol for their freedom organization. Bobby Seale saw it and used it for his Blank Panther group.
(amazon.com) No other state has embraced and preserved its civil rights history more thoroughly than Alabama. Nor is there a place where that history is richer. Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail tells of Alabama’s great civil rights events, as well as its lesser-known moments, in a compact and accessible narrative, paired with a practical guide to Alabama’s preserved civil rights sites and monuments.
In his history of Alabama’s civil rights movement, Cradle of Freedom (University of Alabama Press, 2004), Frye Gaillard contends that Alabama played the lead role in a historic movement that made all citizens of the nation, black and white, more free. This book, geared toward the casual traveler and the serious student alike, showcases in a vividly illustrated and compelling manner, valuable and rich details. It provides a user-friendly, graphic tool for the growing number of travelers, students, and civil rights pilgrims who visit the state annually.
The story of the civil rights movement in Alabama is told city by city, region by region, and town by town, with entries on Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, Tuscaloosa, Tuskegee, and Mobile, as well as chapters on the Black Belt and the Alabama hill country. Smaller but important locales such as Greensboro, Monroeville, and Scottsboro are included, as are more obscure sites like Hale County’s Safe House Black History Museum and the birthplace of the Black Panther Party in Lowndes County.
Birmingham Sunday - Larry Dane Brimner (2010)
(Reader description) Story of Birmingham at the time of the bombing. Lots of pictures.
(amazon.com) Racial bombings were so frequent in Birmingham that it became known as "Bombingham." Until September 15, 1963, these attacks had been threatening but not deadly. On that Sunday morning, however, a blast in the 16th Street Baptist Church ripped through the exterior wall and claimed the lives of four girls. The church was the ideal target for segregationists, as it was the rallying place for Birmingham's African American community, Martin Luther King, Jr., using it as his "headquarters" when he was in town to further the cause of desegregation and equal rights. Rather than triggering paralyzing fear, the bombing was the definitive act that guaranteed passage of the landmark 1964 civil rights legislation. Birmingham Sunday, a Jane Addams Children's Honor Book, NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book, and Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of the Year, centers on this fateful day and places it in historical context.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)
(Reader description) It was a fun book about a family in Detroit with lots of humor. They go back home to the mother's house to leave their eldest with the grandmother in Birmingham. The bombing happens while they are there. The bombing was covered with a few mentions, but it mainly was a story of a close-knit family.
(amazon.com) A wonderful middle-grade (3rd-6th grade) novel narrated by Kenny, 9, about his middle-class black family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When Kenny's 13-year-old brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma's church is blown up.
Safe from the Neighbors by Steve Yarbrough (adult fiction)
(amazon.com) In a small town in the Mississippi Delta, Luke May teaches local history to students too young to remember the turmoil of the civil rights era. Luke himself was just a child in 1962 when James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss provoked a bloody new battle in the old Civil War. But when a long-lost friend suddenly returns to town, bringing with her a reminder of the act of searing violence that ended her childhood, Luke begins to realize that his connection to the past runs deeper than he ever could have imagined. An intricate novel of family secrets, extramarital affairs, and political upheaval, Safe from the Neighbors is a magnificent achievement.
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (juvenile fiction)
(amazon.com) In Kuckachoo, Mississippi, 1963, Addie Ann Pickett worships her brother Elias and follows in his footsteps by attending the black junior high school. But when her careless act leads to her brother’s disappearance and possible murder, Addie Ann, Mama, and Uncle Bump struggle with not knowing if he’s dead or alive. Then a good deed meant to unite Kuckachoo sets off a chain of explosive events. Addie Ann knows Old Man Adams left his land to the white and black people to plant a garden and reap its bounty together, but the mayor denies it. On garden picking day, Addie Ann’s family is sorely tested. Through tragedy, she finds the voice to lead a civil rights march all her own, and maybe change the future for her people.
Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford (juvenile nonfiction)
(amazon.com) A poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs and water cannons. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which served as a meeting place for civil rights organizers. The explosion killed four little girls. Their murders shocked the nation and turned the tide in the struggle for equality. A Jane Addams Children's Honor Book, here is a book that captures the heartbreak of that day, as seen through the eyes of a fictional witness. Archival photographs with poignant text written in free verse offer a powerful tribute to the young victims.
Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund
(Reader description) Anyone born and raised in Birmingham like I was will love this book. There is so much Birmingham history. There were times when I was reading that I just had to stop and think about what I was doing at that time. I was just a child but can still remember going downtown with my Mom and sitting at one of the big department store counters to have lunch. Being so young, I was totally oblivious to the fact that only whites were allowed or that there were separate bathrooms. I also have a very close friend whose father is a retired Birmingham police officer. I have listened to him tell stories about his time on the force, and after reading this book, it made me see him in a little different light, and I am sorry to say that it wasn't a very good light. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what it truly felt like to live in the city of Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement.
(amazon.com) Weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, racists and civil rights advocates, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, Sena Jeter Naslund creates a tapestry of American social transformation at once intimate and epic.
In Birmingham, Alabama, twenty-year-old Stella Silver, an idealistic white college student, is sent reeling off her measured path by events of 1963. Combining political activism with single parenting and night-school teaching, African American Christine Taylor discovers she must heal her own bruised heart to actualize meaningful social change. Inspired by the courage and commitment of the civil rights movement, the child Edmund Powers embodies hope for future change. In this novel of maturation and growth, Naslund makes vital the intersection of spiritual, political, and moral forces that have redefined America.
Martin Luther King speech, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"
(Watcher description) I saw this video, edited, on The Young Turks website a couple of weeks ago.) YouTube Video, Excerpts of a Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967.
Entire speech: http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/document/mlk-sermon-why-i-am-opposed-war-vietnam
Goin's Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack (children's picture book)
(amazon.com) There's a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color...and 'Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it's someplace special and she's bursting to go by herself.
When her grandmother sees that she's ready to take such a big step, 'Tricia Ann hurries to catch the bus heading downtown. But unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life's so unfair.
Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there's a friend around the corner reminding 'Tricia Ann that she's not alone. And even her grandmother's words -- "You are somebody, a human being -- no better, no worse than anybody else in this world" -- echo in her head, lifting her spirits and pushing her forward.
Patricia C. McKissack's poignant story of growing up in the segregated South and Jerry Pinkney's rich, detailed watercolors lead readers to the doorway of freedom.
The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos, illustrated by Nate Powell
(Reader description) The title comes from the MLK, Jr. quote, "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." For me, this graphic novel could easily stand along with To Kill a Mockingbird as an exploration and exposition of its time period. The art work is spare, adding much to the impact of the story.
(amazon.com) As the civil rights struggle heats up in Texas, two families—one white, one black—find common ground. This semi-autobiographical tale is set in 1967 Texas, against the backdrop of the fight for civil rights. A white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston’s color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.
The Silence of Our Friends follows events through the point of view of young Mark Long, whose father is a reporter covering the story. Semi-fictionalized, this story has its roots solidly in very real events. With art from the brilliant Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) bringing the tale to heart-wrenching life, The Silence of Our Friends is a new and important entry in the body of civil rights literature.
The Summer We Got Saved by Pat Cunningham DeVoto
(amazon.com) Wallace is poised to win the Alabama gubernatorial race. The KKK is going strong. And integration seems like an impossible dream. This same summer, Tab and Tina, Maudie, and Charles's lives will be saved and the South will be transformed. Growing up down the road from the founding place of the KKK, Tab and Tina have always been sheltered. But when their progressive aunt, Eugenia, comes for her yearly visit, Tab and Tina's lives will never be the same. Taken from their conservative town in Alabama to the Highlander Folk School, a place where blacks and whites live together while working for integration, Tab and Tina will see just how similar people really are. A graduate of the Highlander school, Maudie has always known that she wanted to be involved in voter registration and literacy training. When she takes a job in a congregation determined to stonewall her, she has her work cut out for her. But she's determined to change their minds, especially Jessie who isn't her student by choice but who ends up teaching her more than she could ever have dreamed. Charles, Tab and Tina's father, has often supported the safe candidate. With a family to support and property to manage, he has a lot at stake. But when a childhood friend comes to him with passionate support for a dark horse candidate, Charles is intrigued. Can one man really change the world?
Our Year of Themes will continue on Tuesday, February 25th at 6:30pm with a discussion of famous couples, real or imagined!
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