LIONS IN THE WAY by Bella Rodman
Kirkus Star


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The eight teenagers who were selected to be the first Negroes to enter Fayette High School in Jameson, Tennessee, did not literally meet the lions, which an old spiritual described, when they marched into the school. The barriers that they did run into--and finally surmounted--are all described however, realistically, thoughtfully, and in depth. Jameson was considered a peaceful, comparatively progressive southern city, and the acceptance of the eight Negroes was only a form of compromise, token integration. The citizens were uncomfortably reconciled to the idea until, three days before the school opening, an extremist with political ambitions came to try to arouse public disfavor, and succeeded. The spectrum of opinion is shown here--the perennial rabble-rousers, many from outside; the people who sincerely felt their rights were being violated; the public officials who opposed integration but were determined to carry out the law; the vacillators; and the people who were in favor of integration. In the Negro section of town there are, in addition to those who favor their children attending Fayette, those who are fearful of change: the Negroes who hate whites; the wealthy but disreputable banker who might lose status; and those who have come to accept Jim Crow. The book traces the increasing violence during the first week of school which finally ends after the brutal beating of a minister and the appearance of the Federal troops. A wide range of characters, adult and juvenile, are used in turn to illustrate the mounting feeling. Like Frank Bonham's Durango Street (1965) this is excellent documentary-style fiction strengthened by its close attention to the realities of a deep social problem of particular concern to teenages.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1966
Publisher: Follett