Child of the Civil Rights Movement

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In the important picture book, Child of the Civil Rights Movement, by Paula Young Shelton, Ms. Shelton (the daughter of politician, human rights activist and businessman Andrew Young) experienced the Civil Rights movement firsthand and relays those still-vivid memories with an easy feel. She refers to members of her “Civil Rights family” by their first names, including her “Uncle Martin” (Martin Luther King, Jr.), her “Aunt Coretta,” and other bigger-than-life personalities that, for many of us, were at first only names in a book.

Ms. Shelton describes how white restaurant owners refused to seat her family, and how she sat down, cried loudly and engaged in her very own “little sit-in” in protest. She recalls a television news show about the Freedom Riders, black and white students whose bus was torched as they rode to the South to protest oppressive laws. She also relives how her father “marched, organized, registered voters, protested unfair laws, and taught nonviolence,” and how he was sometimes beaten because of it.

Even in the face of so dark a subject, Ms. Shelton brings out the sunshine and beauty of people like Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, Jr., who achieved much, despite their ordeals. The book culminates with the 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery (with the National Guard escorting them all the way), which inspired President Johnson to sign the bill that made sure all people—black and white, had the opportunity to vote.

This very important book documents a turbulent time in our history, and does so with Shelton’s simplistic writing and the soothingly beautiful illustrations of artist Raul Colon. Together, Shelton’s storytelling ability and Colon’s artistic talent breathe new life into long-past events, where little children were forced to watch their beloved families be barred from restaurants and restrooms, simply because of the color of their skin.

This book review originally appeared at the following link: http:// ritahubbard.com /2010/thanks-for-the-memories/ ‎

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