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We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards)) Hardcover – February 1, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

STARRED REVIEW Even with the many fine books out there about the role of young people in the Civil Rights era, this highly
readable photo-essay will hold YA readers with its focus on four young people who participated in the
Birmingham Children s March, set against the big picture of the fight against segregation and the roles of
adults. At nine, Audrey Hendricks was the youngest of nearly 4000 black children who marched,
protested, and sang their way to jail, and she had the support of her church, teachers, and middle-class
parents. Washington Booker lived in poverty in the projects; for him the police were the ultimate terror.
Smart, academic James Stewart chose not to do sit-ins, but marching felt right. Arnetta Streeter went to
young activists training. Important adult leaders on all sides are included in the story, from Martin Luther
King, Jr. and the Reverend Shuttlesworth to Bull Connor, and Levinson points out not just the individuals
with extreme viewpoints, but also the moderates who kept quiet about the insulting separate but equal
policies. The format will hook readers with spacious type, boxed quotes, and large black-and-white photos
on almost every double-page spread, from the horrifying view of the Klan marching with children to the
young protestors waiting to be arrested. A fascinating look at a rarely covered event for both curriculum
and personal interest. Chapter notes, a timeline, and a bibliography conclude.
Hazel Rochman --Booklist

STARRED REVIEW This chronicle of a pivotal chapter of the civil rights movement weaves together the stories of four black children in Birmingham, Ala., who were among some 4,000 who boycotted school to participate in a march to protest segregation. Before recounting that event, during which almost 2,500 young people were arrested and jailed, first-time author Levinson opens with intimate profiles of the four spotlighted children (drawn from interviews she conducted with each of them), along with descriptions of Birmingham s racist laws, corrupt politicians, antiblack sentiment and activists efforts to fight all of the above. Readers also get an upclose view of such leaders as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights; Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who advocated a nonviolent response; and James Bevel, a preacher who rallied the city s children and teens. Yet the most compelling component is Levinson s dramatic recreation of the courageous children s crusade and the change it helped bring about in the face of widespread prejudice and brutality. Powerful period photos and topical sidebars heighten the story s impact. Ages 10 up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Feb.) --Publishers Weekly

STARRED REVIEW The author takes her inspiring tale of courage in the face of both irrational racial hatred and adult foot-dragging (on both sides) through the ensuing riots and the electrifying September bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church...A moving record of young people rising at a pivotal historical moment, based on original interviews and archival research as well as published sources. --Kirkus

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012 --Publishers Weekly

STARRED REVIEW Triumph and tragedy in 1963 Bombingham, as children and teens pick up the flagging Civil Rights movement and give it a swift kick in the pants.
Levinson builds her dramatic account around the experiences of four young arrestees including a 9-year-old, two teenage activists trained in nonviolent methods and a high-school dropout who was anything but nonviolent. She opens by mapping out the segregated society of Birmingham and the internal conflicts and low levels of adult participation that threatened to bring the planned jail-filling marches dubbed Project C (for confrontation ), and by extension the entire civil-rights campaign in the South, to a standstill. Until, that is, a mass exodus from the city s black high schools (plainly motivated, at least at first, almost as much by the chance to get out of school as by any social cause) at the beginning of May put thousands of young people on the streets and in the way of police dogs, fire hoses and other abuses before a national audience. The author takes her inspiring tale of courage in the face of both irrational racial hatred and adult foot-dragging (on both sides) through the ensuing riots and the electrifying September bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, then brings later lives of her central participants up to date.
A moving record of young people rising at a pivotal historical moment, based on original interviews and archival research as well as published sources. (photos, timeline, endnotes, multimedia resource lists) (Nonfiction. 11-15) --Kirkus

About the Author

Cynthia Y. Levinson holds degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and also attended the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. A former teacher and educational policy consultant and researcher, she has published articles in Appleseeds, Calliope, Cobblestone, Dig, Faces, and Odyssey.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 10
  • Lexile Measure: 1020L (What's this?)
  • Series: Jane Addams Award Book (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers; Third Edition edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561456276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561456277
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
By May 1963, African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama, had had enough of segregation and police brutality. But with their lives and jobs at stake, most adults were hesitant to protest the city's racist culture. Instead, the children and teenagers--like Audrey, Wash, James, and Arnetta--marched to jail to secure their freedom.

At a time when the civil rights movement was struggling, Birmingham's black youth answered Dr. Martin Luther King's call to "fill the jails" of their city. In doing so, they drew national attention to the cause, helped bring about the repeal of the segregation laws, and inspired thousands of other young people to demand their rights. (Inside jacket of We've Got a Job)

We've Got a Job tells a story about the civil rights movement few know. Each of the stories these four brave children tell are remarkable. That they took on this fight for equality at such young ages, and made Birmingham change its racists behaviors and policies is astonishing.

One of those children is Audrey. Her family was what many see as the typical American family. And today, they would be, but it was 1960 and they were black, living in a notoriously racist city in the South. There was nothing typical about Audrey's family. They were second-class citizens regulated to the back of the bus, and separate water fountains. Audrey heard the freedom fighters from the near daily meetings her parents hosted, and knew she had to help.

Wash, short for Washington, lived in a tenement house with his sister and mother. He was afraid to do something as common as take a bath. In fourth grade, a teacher threatened to beat Wash. He ran. In seventh grade, he skipped more than he attended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All I can say is "Wow!" It is fabulous! The author has all the requisites for an outstanding nonfiction book - timeline, thorough index, etc. and it was clear she has done an incredible amount of very thorough research -- also that she is passionate about her subject -- it clearly shows. Loved the balance of the four young people she chose. Interesting to learn about Shuttlesworth and Bevel and their importance to the Movement. Also she showed King wasn't perfect as well as the Kennedy administration's reluctance to get on board and why. Liked the inclusion of the importance of the singing as inspiration. Liked that she included the part about the firemen refusing to turn the hoses on the people -- they weren't all monsters (except Connor, of course). I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Parts of it really gave me the shivers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I stayed up all night to read this breathtaking, informative and inspirational book about the Birmingham Children's March in Birmingham, Alabama. This beautifully written and photographed book tells the story of the 4,000 children who integrated Birmingham after the adults, feeling frightened of violence and probable loss of livelihoods, stopped protesting with Dr. Martin King Jr. and other clergy. Facing violence, expulsion from school, threats to their parents lives, and the killing of 4 little girls from a bomb planted at church by white supremacists, the children of Birmingham continued to march and protest until they won significant concessions from Bull Conner and the white power structure. It also frankly discusses the use of non-violent and violent tactics used by the Black community to protect themselves, a topic that is not often discussed. This book for older children, teens and adults inspires us to fight for what is right, and gives us courage for the journey.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Levinson has done an incredible job with this book. Not only does she give an account of the events leading up to and including the Children's March but she merges comments from some of the participants. This is how narrative nonfiction should be done. The book is beautifully organized with complementary photographs. I almost felt like I was there while reading this book.

I think what makes this account so powerful is the sense of immediacy that Levinson has created. It felt like it was happening as I was reading about it rather than almost fifty years ago. It was amazing to read about the courage of the children who participate, ages 9 to 18 with a few adults mixed in. The story in the prologue starts the book off with a bang. The idea of a nine-year-old child telling her parents that she wants to go to jail hit me hard. The descriptions of hundreds of children crammed into jail cells meant to hold many fewer occupants was also full of impact. I think the part though that really got me was when fire hoses were turned on the marchers. Clearly, the author has done her research, but more than that, she has made it understandable for the young reader.

I highly, highly recommend this book for any reader who wants to see the power of unity or the power of children to make a difference. This would be a great book to use in teaching about civil rights or just plain courage.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oscar Wilde supposedly said, "Any fool can make history, but it takes genius to write it." While I don't necessarily agree with the first part, the second part absolutely rings true. After all, how do you make a story compelling when everyone already knows how it ends? Cynthia Levinson has proven her genius here, because she accomplishes that and so much more in WE'VE GOT A JOB.

By anchoring the events surrounding the 1963 Birmingham Children's March in the personal narratives of four of its direct participants, Levinson puts readers on the ground in Birmingham. We may know the final outcome, but we have no idea how we're ever going to get there, and this day-by-day account of the incremental progress--and setbacks--will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happened next. This is a nonfiction book with as much drama and pacing as THE HUNGER GAMES. I literally couldn't put it down, except for when I became too teary-eyed to continue reading, which happened often.

There is so much to love about this book, but I think my favorite thing about it is how Levinson humanizes everyone involved. It's not as much a movement or an event as it is individuals, each with his or her own motivations, working with or against each other. I loved reading that even the revered leaders (for both sides of the issue) were hardly ever in agreement. Everyone involved was taking a chance, a risk, a guess as to what was going to work--or not. They were all fighting for what they believed in, each in his or her own unique way. Nothing was simple. Nothing was clear.

I wholeheartedly think this book should be in every library, in every classroom, and in every home in America for its history as well as for its message for the future. Buy it, read it, recommend it, share it.
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