One of the most decorated nonfiction writers in the field brings his style to a well-told story of the struggle for voting rights in the American South.
Fifty years ago, as the civil rights movement took hold, the attempts to ensure African-American access to the vote increasingly took center stage. A newly passed Civil Rights Act did not guarantee voting rights, so activists in the South continued to press for them at both the state and federal levels. The barriers to voting—poll taxes, literacy tests, limits on registration—were difficult to overcome. Physical abuse and financial intimidation also kept people from the polls. Activist churches were subject to firebombs and burning. Selma, Alabama, became a flashpoint. As Freedman begins his narrative, student activism had propelled teachers and other middle-class blacks to get involved. The death of an unarmed demonstrator drove organizers to plan a march from Selma to the state’s capital, Montgomery—an attempt that resulted in “Bloody Sunday,” one of the single most violent moments of the movement, and served to prod action on the Voting Rights Act in Congress. Freedman’s meticulous research and elegant prose brings freshness to a story that has been told many times. Familiar figures populate the account, but they are joined by many lesser-known figures as well.
Richly illustrated, this deserves a place alongside other important depictions of this story. (timeline, bibliography, photo credits, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)