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Posts Tagged «segregation»

The Parker Inheritance

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

by Varian Johnson, 331 pages, Grades 6 and up

Candice is pretty unhappy to be in South Carolina with her mom instead of back in Washington D.C. with both of her parents. Her parents are  trying to unstitch their marriage and her mother wanted some space in her hometown while they work it out. It is hard struggling with the loss of her family and trying to be comfortable in a new place, but she when she finds a letter written by her great-grandmother containing a mystery and then meets Brandon, the perfect mystery-solving companion, things start to get interesting. Brandon and Candice believe they are searching for a long lost treasure as they read and do research about the people mentioned in her great grandma’s letter. The whole history of the town and the mystery specifically is steeped in racial tension both historical and contemporary. Something happened when a tennis match was played between Wallace School (white) and Perkins School (African American) in the 1950s. What did her great grandmother have to do with it? And, who are Siobhan, Enoch and Leanne and how do they fit in? Brandon and Candice follow twists and turns in their search for answers. Racism, colorism (prejudice and privilege based on the shade of your skin even within the Black community) and the concept of passing for white all play a role in this complex historical mystery.

If you enjoy a good mystery, you might also like Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett, or if you are more into historical adventure you might like Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis. If you enjoy books about family with a little mystery too, you might like As Brave As You, by Jason Reynolds.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Friday, January 29th, 2010

claudette-colvin-twice-toward-justice-phillip-hoose-book-cover-artby Phillip Hoose   p. 104  Grades 6-8

I bet you know who Rosa Parks is and what she’s famous for, but have you ever  heard of Claudette Colvin?  She was a fifteen year old girl who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus nine months before Rosa Parks became famous for the same thing.

On March 2, 1955, fifteen year-old Claudette Colvin courageously refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white woman.  Two white police officers came onto the bus and ordered her to give up her seat.  When she refused, stating that it was her Constitutional right to sit there, they dragged  her off the bus, shoved her into a police car and handcuffed her.  On the way to the police station, they called her names and made disparaging comments about her as Claudette sat terrified in the backseat next to one of the officers.  She was charged with violating the segregation  law, disturbing the peace, and assaulting the policemen who had pulled her off the bus.

Why is it that Rosa Parks became the symbol of the Montgomery bus boycott and  is considered one of the people who started the Civil Rights Movement, but most of us have never heard of Claudette Colvin?  At first she was a heroine to the Black community for standing up to the unfair practice of segregated seating, but then she became viewed as a troublemaker, and even her classmates shunned her.   Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement felt it was too risky to have a teenager represent them.   Hurt and isolated, Claudette still summoned the courage to testify at the trial that ended bus segregation in Montgomery.

Connections:  Other good nonfiction books about teenagers active in the Civil Rights Movement include Marching for Freedom : Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge, Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, and Freedom’s Children : Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine.