A snapshot of the civil-rights movement in one city provides insight into the important role of individual communities as change moved through the country.
The struggle of local activists to integrate a small amusement park in Baltimore, Md., serves as the focus of this examination of attempts to change discrimination laws from the 1940s through the 1960s. What makes this rise from the level of local to national interest is the fact that the classic carousel from the now-defunct Gwynn Oak Park sits on the National Mall, where all ages and races climb aboard. Interestingly enough, the first African-American child to ride the carousel did so on the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the historic 1963 March on Washington. Nathan, who grew up in Baltimore during this turbulent period, has written a detailed history of the city’s civil-rights activism, placing the incident at the park in historical and social context. Many were involved, both black and white, young and old, and a significant number were connected to what was happening beyond their own community. The many period photographs and excellent source credits enhance the story.
This very dense narrative will work best as a case study of how citizens of one city both precipitated and responded to the whirlwind of social change around them. (Nonfiction. 14 & up)