In a book commemorating the Voting Rights Act of 1965, readers are introduced to 100-year-old black Alabaman Lillian, who recalls her long-delayed journey to exercise her American right to vote 50 years ago.
As Lillian climbs the “very steep hill” to the courthouse to vote, she reminisces about the struggles that African-Americans faced and overcame on the way to the passage of the historic law that dismantled the widespread exclusionary practices that African-Americans encountered to that point and guaranteed their right to vote. She’s reminded of the legacy of slavery that her great-grandparents Edmund and Ida survived and of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote, yet angry mobs of white locals forced her parents to back away, holding little Lillian by the hand. She pauses to recall the actions in Selma, 1965. She arrives at the voting booth and presses the lever. In Evans’ mixed-media illustrations, a stooped Lillian makes her slow way up the hill as the tableaux of history play out on the page. She is dressed in vibrant colors, contrasting with the faded, translucent historical images. A burning cross figures in one powerful spread; another joins 100-year-old Lillian to her 50-years-younger self at the gutter, emphasizing her determination to claim her rights.
A much-needed picture book that will enlighten a new generation about battles won and a timely call to uphold these victories in the present. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)