Lewis and Lyon join forces for a fictionalized account of one of the pivotal moments in U.S. civil rights history.
Adult readers may recall Aug. 28, 1963, a searing summer Wednesday, as the occasion on which hundreds of thousands gathered in the nation’s capital to participate in the March for Jobs and Freedom. Better known as the March on Washington, this landmark occasion is often remembered for the epic “I Have a Dream” speech Martin Luther King Jr. delivered that day, along with galvanizing remarks and performances from other civil rights leaders and well-known African-American artists. Later, the March would be recognized for its critical role in helping to facilitate passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. While Lewis and Lyon include all of that historical import, what sets their account apart is less their rendering of the event’s fabled leaders than the varied “voices” in the throng who traveled from all over as “the day swelled to keep faith with its promise / of distressing the assured and assuring the distressed.” Through over 70 largely first-person poems, the poets rekindle the spirit of the fight for racial equality in the United States with imagined voices of young and old, black and white, educated and underprivileged, supporters and detractors and drive home the volume’s theme of taking personal responsibility in helping this country “steer toward justice together.”
A powerful yet accessible guide to “one day in 1963 [that] [b]elongs to every age.” (authors’ note, guide to participants, bibliography, websites, further reading, index) (Poetry/fiction. 10 & up)