A 19th-century chapter in the ongoing struggle for school integration.
When Sarah Roberts was thrown out of her all-white Boston elementary school in 1847, her parents fought back through the courts. Robert Morris, an African-American attorney, and Charles Sumner, a white attorney, joined forces to argue the case before Massachusetts judges. Those judges ruled in favor of segregated schools, but Sarah’s father turned to public opinion and legislation, eventually winning the right for his daughter and all others to attend integrated neighborhood schools. Goodman goes on to briefly enumerate the difficulties that would still be faced in the long fight for equal opportunity education, culminating in the more famous case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. It’s too bad that acknowledgment of Boston’s 1970s-era school-integration battles is relegated to a timeline along with other dismaying post-Brown integration facts. Lewis’ watercolor-and-gouache paintings portray the faces of the family, the courtroom scenes, and 19th-century Boston with delicacy and atmosphere. The concluding double-page–spread vista of a sailing ship docked near a modern skyscraper, albeit quite lovely, is out of place.
Expanding the understanding of equal rights in the classroom is sadly timely, and this helps to fill in an early part of the picture. (afterword, sources and resources, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 7-10)