Even after some Jim Crow laws were declared unconstitutional, many states continued to refuse to adhere to the changes. Sibert Honor–winning author Brimner (Black and White, 2011) explores the first “Freedom Ride” in May 1961, as seven black and six white activists ranging in age from 18 to 61 set out to bring attention to this resistance.
Recruited by the Congress of Racial Equality, they left Washington, D.C., on commercial buses, planning to arrive in New Orleans on May 17 to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. As they traveled south, they encountered expected resistance. White Freedom Riders were denied service at colored-only lunch counters. Joseph Perkins, a black rider, attempted to get a shoeshine in the “white chair” and, when he refused to move, was arrested. As the bus continued south, the responses to the riders became increasingly more violent. Three of the group, including John Lewis, were severely beaten even though they remained nonviolent. As they approached Birmingham, Alabama, they were met by the Ku Klux Klan and abandoned by law enforcement. Brimner does an excellent job giving the necessary context for the events, and the day-by-day focus provides dramatic tension for the narrative. Useful backmatter includes biographical sketches, bibliography, source notes, index, and picture credits.
Richly illustrated with period photographs and strikingly designed, this is a clear, accessible depiction of a major story in the civil rights movement. (Nonfiction. 10-18)