The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum. January 3, 2017. National Geographic Children’s Books, 144 p. ISBN: 9781426326660. Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1140.
James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.
The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”
Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Racism and racist epithets; Violent images; Harsh realities of slavery
Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Ask typical high-school students about the American civil rights movement, and many will mention Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. What they may not be so familiar with are the other influential individuals and momentous events that shaped the cause. This account of 1966’s 200-mile freedom march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, written in accessible language and peppered with quotes and period photos that bring the action alive, tells how this momentous effort, initiated by James Meredith, united the five factions of the civil rights movement: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Congress of Racial Equality; the National Urban League; the NAACP; and Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Chronological coverage conveys the fear and danger participants faced and documents Carmichael’s first use of the term black power. The brief chapters build on one another, creating a complete picture for readers with limited background knowledge. This compelling account will be equally engaging for classroom resource material or individual research.
Publishers Weekly (November 7, 2016)
In a powerful and timely book, Bausum (Stonewall) focuses her attention on the last great march of the civil rights era, the March Against Fear, from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., in June 1966. Initiated by James Meredith in an effort to make Mississippi a less fearful place for black Americans, the march swelled to 15,000 people and resulted in 4,000 black Mississippian voter registrations; it also splintered the major civil rights organizations of the day and gave rise to Stokely Carmichael’s Black Power movement. Bausum dissects these internal divisions with great sensitivity, lauding Martin Luther King Jr.’s peacemaking powers while illuminating the conditions that provoked others to more confrontational protest. Abundant details disclose the extent of segregation and racism, the pivotal role of law enforcement authorities, and how fraught protecting the marchers could be: state troopers used tear gas and physical assault to “suppress an act of racial defiance” when marchers tried to pitch their tents on public land. This exemplary look into civil rights history concludes with perspective and encouragement regarding ongoing struggles for social change. Archival photos and source notes are included. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
About the Author
Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people from her home in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her 2007 book Muckrakers earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as the year’s best book on social justice issues for older readers. In addition, Ann has written about the nation’s chief executives and their spouses — Our Country’s Presidents (2005, 2nd edition) and Our Country’s First Ladies (2007) — as well as the intrepid explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs, 2000).
Her website is www.AnnBausum.com.
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