A compelling narrative that sheds light on a little-known aspect of the struggle for social justice.

THE YOUNG CRUSADERS

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS WHO GALVANIZED THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

Lively history of the teenagers and young adults who fought some of the hardest battles of the civil rights movement.

Franklin, a former professor of history and education, begins with a moment unknown to most students of the civil rights era: its largest single demonstration, “not the August 1963 March on Washington, but the system-wide school boycott in New York City on February 3, 1964, when over 360,000 elementary and secondary school students went on strike.” Across the nation, schools became battlegrounds, with the students who integrated such places as Lanier High School in small-town Mississippi, some of them fresh from sitting in at a lunch counter in Jackson, serving as frontline soldiers. They were subject to verbal and physical abuse, and one young woman who answered back was expelled from Little Rock’s Central High School. Franklin reports the absurdities built into public school systems around the country as they integrated, willingly or not. In Milwaukee, for instance, Black students were bused to a White school in the morning, bused back to their old school for lunch, then bused back to the White school for afternoon classes. The young people who rose up in protest were sometimes brave, sometimes merely sick and tired, as when, nine months before Rosa Parks, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to relinquish her seat on a public bus. “I was just angry,” she explained. “Like any teenager might be. I was downright angry.” No matter what their motivation, the students eventually won allies—the adult leaders of the civil rights movement, of course, but also Mexican American and White students who, radicalized in the later 1960s, took their side. The author finds reason for the struggle to continue today. “Children and teenagers must mobilize and demand that student loan debt be forgiven and that future generations of students leave college debt-free,” he urges, among other planks in a youth platform for today.

A compelling narrative that sheds light on a little-known aspect of the struggle for social justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8070-4007-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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