We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Following the aftermath of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students and protesters organized a National School Walkout on March 14th. Ten days later, the student-led demonstration, March for Our Lives, took place in Washington, D.C. In addition, there were hundreds of sibling marches that happened simultaneously across the globe, in support of the movement.
My featured book today focuses on a child marcher who braved the streets of Birmingham, Alabama in May 1963, along with more than 3,000 children. This remarkable story of young girl’s courage and strength of character is worth sharing to millions of children.
The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
Words by Cynthia Levinson
Illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2017) ISBN13: 9781481400701
Copy provided by Hudson Library & Historical Society. Book photos by me.
From the dust jacket: Audrey Faye Hendricks, age nine, intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. When she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan, she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!
Audrey Faye Hendricks knew about segregation. When no grown-up was willing to protest and “fill the jails,” Reverend James Bevel, along with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organized a Children’s March. Audrey, of course, begged her momma to let her participate in the march.
The first half of the book showed Audrey looking so happy and confident. The second half, not so much. When Audrey was arrested and sentenced to one week in juvenile hall, along with thousands of children marchers, she realized that being in jail was more difficult than she’d initially thought. She wasn’t fond of the “soupy, oily, tasteless grits” or the “jabbing wire springs” of the bare mattress she slept on. Audrey missed her family and her classmates.
At one point in the book, one of the four white men who interviewed Audrey asked if she was “against America.” I was infuriated! I don’t even know what to say to that! Fortunately for Audrey and the other children marchers, their efforts paid off. Two months after the Children’s March, Birmingham rescinded its segregation laws. It wasn’t until a year later that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“What a difference the Children’s March has made in this nation.” — Audrey Faye Hendricks, January 12, 2008
In her Author’s Note, Cynthia Levinson shared that she had the honor of talking with Audrey in her home, where she grew up. Cynthia included additional information about Audrey’s life decades after the Children’s March in 1963. Readers will also find a Time Line of events and a special recipe for Audrey’s favorite treat: hot rolls baptized in butter! (Yum!)