In the first week of May, 1963, after Martin Luther King had written his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” but a year before the Civil Rights Law was signed, massive Civil Rights protests by adults in Birmingham, Alabama, seemed to be slowly dissipating. After spirited debate and considerable trepidation, the decision was made to allow local youths to skip school and march by themselves. They responded enthusiastically, and their numbers swelled into the thousands. Sheriff Bull Conner responded with fire hoses, dogs, night sticks, and mass jailings. Huge numbers were jailed. On May 10th, a settlement was reached when Birmingham leaders agreed to release all the children who remained in jail, not press charges against them, and begin to de-segregate downtown facilities. Later the Birmingham School Board voted to expel the children who missed school to protest. A court eventually voided that order. This picture book does not focus on historical facts, but it does provide the basic context while focusing on the experiences of individual children. The role of these children was crucial to the progress of Civil Rights in Birmingham and the whole country. This book is an inspiring and important tribute to the courage of these children. Hopefully it will be widely distributed and read and inspire another generation of young people. The author, Monica Clark-Robinson, is a white woman who works as a children’s librarian in Arkansas and sometimes as an actor and professional reader of audio productions. The illustrator, Frank Morrison is a Black man who first attracted attention as a New Jersey graffiti artist and break-dancer. Now he has settled into an Atlanta life as an award-winning artist and illustrator.
New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. 36 un-numbered pages Illustrated with full-page, full-color drawings by Frank Morrison. Oversized hardback in dust jacket, $17.99