Customer Reviews: Remember: The Journey to School Integration (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards))
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When I was younger I used to love going to antique stores to buy old photographs. Usually these stores would have huge bins of old shots of families, individuals, and places. Finding the ones I thought were the most original, I bought them and gave each one its own name and history, entirely of my own making. I could pore over a single photograph for hours, enlivening it with a background that I myself would never be able to prove or disprove. But each photo was a staged affair. Its participants knew that they were being photographed. How different it would be to do the same thing, only with photos that highlighted a particular historical moment in our nation's history. In "Remember: The Journey To School Integration", authorial god Toni Morrison does just that. She takes photos that highlight the struggles and heroism of the civil rights activists (and their children) during the early years of southern integration and gives many of them their own little comment or story. Taken individually the photos are eye-opening affairs, even for adults that lived through those turbulent years. Taken as a whole they tell a tale that we should never forget.

The book is, in its own words, "a unique pictorial and narrative journey that introduces children to a watershed period in American history". In many children's books, such a title would begin with an Author's Note that speaks to adults about what the writer is attempting to accomplish. Morrison takes a different route. She speaks immediately to the child readers of this book. "This book is about you", she explains. She tells the kids about this dark period in American history. She gives them a briefing in the history and the multitude of reasons why we should never forget that this occurred. Then the pictures begin. They're all black and white images of a time long past. Segregated schools, dilapidated and far from equal. Small children like Ruby Bridges being led past screaming mobs of white people. Sit-in protesters smashed with eggs and glasses of water by red faced restaurant employees. Some of these pictures are familiar. The white and colored drinking fountains, for example. Some of them you'll have never seen before. White boys chasing a black one on the first day of integration at Central High School. An angry mob overturning a car containing black passengers. Children in Ku Klux Klan robes. But best of all are the photographs of the schoolchildren in the schools. The wary glances shared between white and black students (as displayed on the cover). The hand holding and learning under a single teacher. You can tell by looking that there's still a long way to go but that first step has already been taken. And Toni Morrison has helped to bring you there.

Morrison's words usually fit each picture perfectly. I thought she might have been giving a white boy carrying a boy carrying an anti-segregationist sign with his two friends a bit of a benefit of the doubt when she wrote, "I don't know. My buddies talked me into this". But it's nice of her to show that perhaps not all the white people presented here were evil. She also shows photographs of white people marching in protest with black, so you've a sense that the civil rights movement spanned all races and creeds. Her words give the child reader a chance to think and ponder what they see. Everyone here has a voice. Whether the reader agrees with that voice is not always a given.

"Remember" is an excellent way to introduce kids to a harsh moment in our nation's past. This type of format works perfectly with the subject matter. Better still, this is one way of showing to kids how children were the battleground of one of the nation's most contentious movements. Toni Morrison does their memory proud. A must for every library.
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on February 8, 2005
Morrison has captured an era in her skillful hands and held it out for all to see, a remembrance and a memorial as well. She presents reality, but has smoothed the harsh edges, so that the truth stands out plainly and clearly. Her gaze is focused upon progress toward equality, respect, dignity and non-violence.

The pictures that accompany Morrison's deceptively simple text add great depth to the meaning of the book. They add a touch of poignancy that makes it personal.

This book is a poetic experience, inspiring and uplifting - no matter what your age.
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on September 30, 2013
I bought this book for my classroom of middle schoolers and they love it. It tells a moving story through pictures.

Although it is technically a picture book it is so much deeper than that.
It is a great book to use if talking about Toni Morrison or black history, or fiction, or poetry. I love having this book and I know any teacher or parent would feel the same.
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on February 24, 2013
Growing up in the northern midwest, I rarely saw any African-Americans and although I'd seen many of these pictures elsewhere, like the child I was, I keep wondering how anyone could justify the inequality of treatment.
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on March 4, 2005
On May 17, 1954 the US Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional, sending the nation on a path of integration whose ramifications are being felt today. In Remember: The Journey To School Integration, author Toni Morrison presents archival photos depicting the events surrounding school integration processes, accompanying photos with a fictional text recounting the dialogue and emotions of students of the times. A fitting tribute to a volatile period in history which should never be forgotten.
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on April 25, 2013
Morrison opens the door to the past for young readers. She opens the story up by telling young readers that "this book is about you", helping them relate to sad situations of hate and prejudice and also showing how far along we have come. Even though prejudices is still seen today, the photographs that Morrison includes in this book show how bad it was. Today bullying is a big issue throughout our world, and the events that took part during this time was a type of bullying that is seen today and many young readers could relate to it. I think this is a great book for 6th graders and up. It talks about the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, segregation and our American history.
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on October 27, 2007
Remember, the journey to school integration is both a powerful and beautiful book and a strong reminder of how fresh (should I say present?) discrimination is, and also how the determination and strength to face violence and incomprehension can overcome deep prejudices.
Toni Morrison, (whom I thank every day for opening for me a window into de black world and way of thinking) with her fluent, elegant and sober writing, leads us to remember a time of struggle and advancement into an equal society, which is a goal we are still far from attaining.
This is a book to see, read and keep near at hand in order to be able to keep watch against prejudice and lack of tolerance. We can strive for a better and more just social world.
Javier Olmedo
Mexico City, Mexico
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on November 5, 2012
Toni Morrison did an excellent job adding a voice to pictures that served as reminder of what past Americans did to stand up for our right to an equal education. I thought this would be a great book to bring into the classroom of 6th graders at the youngest. Toni Morrison writes a very informative prologue that helps introduce the history explained in the book while also explaining how she chose to narrate the story. I really enjoyed the photography of the book and the way she incorporated not only famous snapshots but also new shots that readers may not have seen. It was very evident throughout the book why it was awarded many honors and I believe this will be a book enjoyed by people of all races for many years to come.
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Toni Morrison has done a fabulous job in making the reader feel like they were a part of the desegregation of schools. In beginning the book with "This book is about you" she opens the door to readers both African American and white. She equally invites the reader to learn that "in every way, this is your story." Young students can feel like a part of the story through the photographs of young children in school learning like they do, playing as they do, and having families just like they have. This would be an excellent addition to any school teacher's collection.
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on October 28, 2010
"Separating does not work"
Remember The Journey to School Integration
By: Toni Morrison
2005 Coretta Scott King Book Award
The book is about how the 1950's changed the lives for many young black people that attended a segregated school. Segregation through the school district was legal but were suppose to equal with each other. The black school were quite inferior to those of their white counter parts. The book takes on the perspective of a young black girls speaking on why they don't feel white is any better than them and really do not understand why they are so different. The names of these schools actually had the words colored in the names of their school, Danneel Colored Public School. I guess this was so that no white person dare to try to enroll their children in this school. In May 17, 1954 the supreme court announced a decision in Brown Vs Board Education that separation of school are not equal. A lot of people did not like the decision but eventually were made to comply. There are many pictures in this book that describe the scene without words. The pictures speak for themselves. For instances whites started looting because they did want their white children going to go to school with black children. The whites did not send their children to school due to blacks. Blacks were treated as criminals. Very few accounts in the books where whites are actually being civil to the black community. This book gives you segregation from a child's perspective. It makes it a little more real and a little more sad.
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