Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
I am a children’s author best known for digging up fascinating stories about famous people—and forgotten people who deserve to be famous again. As a kid, I loved reading about the old days, but I wasn’t very interested in “history,” which seemed to be dull facts about a few Great Men. In college, though, I studied social movements and discovered that we all make history together, and that it takes the combined efforts of countless unsung heroes—just as brave, hardworking, and persistent as the big names everybody knows—to achieve real change.
Georgia Gilmore was cooking when she heard the news. Mrs. Rosa Parks had been arrested—pulled off a city bus and thrown in jail. And all because she wouldn’t give up her seat to a white man. To protest, the radio was urging folks to stay off city buses for one day: December 5, 1955. A boycott! Something was cooking in Montgomery, Alabama...and not just Georgia’s famous sweet potato pie.
The inspiring true story of the woman whose cooking helped feed and fund the civil rights movement. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, a Caldecott Honor recipient and seven-time Coretta Scott King award-winning artist.
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I chose this book because it’s so important to recall that segregation wasn’t only in the South, and that the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s built on a long history of resistance going back to the first slave ships that arrived on America’s shores.
Civil rights have been denied to many groups in the United States at different times in different ways—and sometimes in very much the same way, as I learned from this book about a landmark school desegregation case in 1946 in California. Eight-year-old Sylvia Mendez didn’t understand why she had to go to the “Mexican school,” a rough shack without a playground or a cafeteria, when there was a much nicer public school close to her house. So her family decided to fight—not just for Sylvia and her brothers, but for all children in segregated schools in California. Ultimately, they won, with help (as Tonatiuh points out) from the American Jewish Congress, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the NAACP.
We think you will like Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt, Why We Can't Wait, and An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America if you like this list.
From Thomas' list on The best books on movements for racial and economic justice in the United States.
Poor Black farmers and sharecroppers lined the route of Martin Luther King’s famous march from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965, an epic protest that drew thousands of white supporters and led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act. Hasan Jeffries beautifully recaptures these local people’s struggle for political power and economic self-determination. This book made plain to me as has no other just why and where Black Power was the only option. Local people creatively won support from the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and challenged Lowndes County’s courthouse cliques and agricultural committees, powerful agencies set up of, by, and for wealthy white planters under New Deal federal crop subsidy programs. The Lowndes County Freedom Organization was the original Black Panther Party that later inspired legions of local northern activists.
From Christina's list on The best books to change your view on the world.
Why We Can't Wait is an easy way to get into the psychology of MLK. It is a 1964 book by Martin Luther King Jr. about the nonviolent movement against racial segregation in the United States, and specifically the 1963 Birmingham campaign. The way it is written makes it understandable from a 1:1 perspective. I am connected to this because it helps a person be actionable in their own way about causes they care about. No frills, just action!
From Paul's list on The best memoirs of the civil rights movement.
Few reflect on Dr. King more insightfully than Young, from strategy sessions to reflective late-night talks with Dr. King. His memories from campaigns like Birmingham are invaluable. There is both humor and great depth in the tale of Young’s life, from theological school and parish ministry to being at the center of the civil rights movement.