- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (May 15, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1541697332
- ISBN-13: 978-1541697331
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools Hardcover – May 15, 2018
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"In her sweeping analysis...Devlin makes it clear what was at stake for these girls and why we must continue to remember their sacrifices."―Bitch Magazine
"This is essential American history-it's the history of how we got where we are, it's a history of how student activism changed the world by fighting against powerful forces...The book is about knowing the past and knowing your power."―Literary Hub
"[A] groundbreaking new work of recovered history... Devlin, a Rutgers University historian, spent ten years tracking down and interviewing dozens of women who endured harassment and abuse to desegregate schools, whether or not their lawsuits prevailed...Devlin's chronicle...promises to reignite public conversation and debate about racial disparities in public education."―Smithsonian
"The decade of work Devlin put into recovering this underappreciated aspect of civil-rights history is fully on display."―Booklist
"In this accomplished history of the school desegregation fight from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s, Devlin...offers a cogent overview of the legal strategies employed and delves into the stories of the African-American girls (and their families) who defied the ignominious public school systems of the Jim Crow South....Devlin's use of diverse secondary and primary sources, including her own interviews with some of the surviving women, bring fresh perspectives. This informative account of change-making is well worth reading."―Publishers Weekly
"A thoroughly researched, well-written work about civil rights, American history, and the momentum of political change that young people, particularly women, initiate."―Library Journal
"Before reading A Girl Stands at the Door I would have imagined that nothing new could be said about the struggle to desegregate schools--and I would have been wrong. Rachel Devlin has uncovered a neglected history of how parents and, importantly, children braved rejection, hostility, even assault to insist on their right to a decent education. Possibly most surprising, these courageous students were mostly girls, a finding that challenges some assumptions about risk-taking behavior. Not least, the book is a great read."―Linda Gordon, author of The Second Coming of the KKK
"Bold and unforgettable, the girls whose vivid portraits Devlin brings to life through priceless interviews should be household names for their moral courage and stalwart persistence in challenging segregated schools despite the personal costs. This book brings underrecognized female leadership in the black freedom struggle dramatically to the forefront, redrawing the known landmarks in that history."―Nancy F. Cott, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University
"A Girl Stands at the Door reveals black girls' under-appreciated role in the Civil Rights Movement. Devlin relates the stories of well-known child activists such as Ruby Bridges, as well as the stories of numerous other brave black girls whose names have been forgotten by many. The book follows black girls down the halls of schools from Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. The stories unveil much about the struggles of black girls' daily lives and their steadfast determination to find a way in an often hostile world."―LaKisha Michelle Simmons, author of Crescent City Girls
"A Girl Stands at the Door forces us to view a central strand of civil rights history in an entirely new way. Rachel Devlin has discovered something that should have been in plain view but nonetheless has remained invisible - that girls and young women stood at the center of the massive effort to desegregate American schools. In this compelling, lucid, and deeply researched book, Devlin makes them into flesh-and-blood actors, whose words, initiative, and subtle everyday negotiations helped shape an important strand of American history."
―Kenneth Mack, professor, Harvard Law School and author of Representing the Race
About the Author
Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Their collective story, she continues, and not just the famed decision that resulted, is "in the twenty-first century, a vital measure of American Democracy" -- of what young girls and women, young people generally, can accomplish, with the support of grown-ups around them and an unwavering moral compass. To read this book is to have one’s faith restored in the arc of history, and in those who will bend it toward justice, even in the face of extreme adversity, and who are, as it turns out, just exactly right in front of us.
And "not least" among its accomplishments, no less than Linda Gordon testifies, "the book is a great read" -- a GREAT read! To strive for intellectually rigorous writing is surely to risk writing that is overly "academic." Not so here, in the least. It is a joy to read, a "page turner" to be sure, with many, many "radio moments" -- in which, arriving here or here, we find ourselves still standing on a train station platform, or sitting in a parked car, anxious to finish reading or listening to this or that bit of the story.
"On the morning of April 13, 1947," the story begins, "fourteen-year-old Marguerite Daisy Carry went with her father to Eliot Junior High School, the white middle school closest to her home in Washington, DC, and attempted to enroll." The process of telling it begins in earnest, Devlin recounts in the "Acknowledgements," when she first reached out to speak with her, in 2008, now Marguerite Carr Stokes. "What took you [historians] so long?," she mused. Now that the wait is over, finally, and we have the full story, finally, we ALL should wait not a moment longer before enjoying and learning from it.