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When the Children Marched: The Birmingham Civil Rights Movement (Prime) Library Binding – April 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—This deliberate and detail-oriented book focuses on the tremendous efforts made by civil rights workers to end segregation in Birmingham, AL, and the impact their actions had on American views of race relations. In 1956, Birmingham was considered to be the most segregated city in America. Civil rights leaders struggled to communicate the inhumanity of segregation to the rest of the United States. Finally, they made the difficult decision to mobilize children, encouraging them to march nonviolently as a protest tactic. Mayer provides a factual and fascinating picture of the widespread criticism and praise brought about by this controversial idea. Long patches of text are broken up by relevant archival photographs, and important sections have bright-red headings. The stirring photographs of the participants, and their riveting personal accounts, create an intimate account of the times. The book's focus on the experiences of young people is a valuable perspective that will engage readers.—Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ
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Children played a significant role in Birmingham’s crucial civil rights struggle, and this stirring history of the movement, with many photos, news reports, and quotes from all sides, emphasizes the connections between the young people’s power and that of the big leaders. Martin Luther King called Birmingham the most segregated city in America, and his Letter from Birmingham Jail is quoted at length. But when the adults’ protest lost momentum, the leaders’ decision to call on young people galvanized the movement. The racist violence is always part of the history, including the four girls killed in the church bombing. From the cover picture of police escorting African American children to jail, the numerous photos of youth in nonviolent confrontation—marching, attacked by dogs and fire hoses, crammed in prisons—will draw readers with their gripping drama. Ample back matter, with source notes, a bibliography, Web sites, and a time line, will encourage further exploration. Grades 6-12. --Hazel Rochman
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