Oh, Freedom!: Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement With the People Who Made It Happen
by Casey King
ISBN 0606130063 (0-606-13006-3)
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Hardcover, Demco Media, 1997
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Book summary: A personal look at the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in a provocative and engrossing book that is filled with passionate stories and important information. Choosing from 500 interviews that fourth graders from Washington, D.C., conducted with their parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends, the authors compiled a historical account of how ordinary people made a difference during the civil rights movement. With a forward by Rosa Parks, Oh, Freedom! also includes interviews with a few legendary participants, including James Farmer (organizer of the Freedom Rides) and Walter Fauntroy (chairman of the March on Washington). Besides the dozens of archival photographs of important moments during the movement, readers will see photographic portraits of the kids and adults who took part in the interviews, In addition, three introductory essays detail each phase of the movement. Educators, librarians, and parents will be thrilled to have such an appealing and unique book to share with children.
In 1989, author Casey King was a 4th grade teacher in Washington, DC. His class, comprised mostly of African-American students, knew little about the modern civil rights movement. Without a satisfactory text on the movement from which to teach, he decided that the kids should learn their history first hand. So, he sent them out to interview the people who were really there. The kids came back with truly wonderful stories -- many of the parents, grandparents, and friends interviewed had never before had the opportunity to share their stories with their children.
There are 31 interviews that cover three main areas of the movement: life under segregation, the nonviolent movement, and the black power movement. Everyone is here -- regular, ordinary people who dedicated themselves to the cause of freedom and the fight for equality, and even a few of the better known people whose names we hear and associate with Martin Luther King, or with the Freedom Rides, or with other familiar aspects of the movement. In her foreword, Rosa Parks writes, "I can't think of anything more important to teach young people today than this: that ordinary people working together can change history." Through warm, down-to-earth interviews with children, readers will meet people who lived in the segregated south, people who took part in sit-ins, people who were jailed for protesting, and people who found strength they never knew they had. They will meet a member of the Black Panthers, a woman who witnessed the assassination of Malcolm X, and a former Ku Klux Klansman. In addition, there are three introductory essays which provide background information to help kids to better understand the context of the interviews. Also included are portraits of the people in each interview and over 40 archival photographs of important moments during the movement.
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