Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama; by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B.Lewis, Candlewick Press, $16.99, 30 pages, ages 6-10.

While violent protests and confrontations marked a large part of the American civil rights movement, many communities chose nonviolent activism, such as the citizens of Huntsville, Alabama. Author Hester Bass (The Secret World of Walter Anderson) tells the story of the summer of 1963 and how Huntsville’s black community used creativity and problem-solving to combat racism rather than fighting and rioting. Starting in January 1962, Bass sets the stage by exploring the inequities between the black and white communities – black children must carry pictures of their feet to shoe shops because they aren’t allowed to try on merchandise, and black families are routinely locked out of restaurants. Slowly, like the first signs of spring, people act – black men and women eat at diner counters and frequent bowling alleys and public parks reserved for whites. The real test comes in September 1963, after a summer of peaceful demonstrations, when schools are federally mandated to desegregate. Will the school doors remain locked? Bass’s rhythmic, sonorous writing weaves this important moment in American history, while Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator E.B. Lewis’s watercolors evoke the pain and struggle of people working together to be free. Complete with an informative author’s note (Bass spent a decade in Huntsville) and carefully curated bibliography, this is an excellent introduction to the civil-rights movement for elementary-aged students, and sucessfully champions the notion that people can change without resorting to violence.

SEEDS OF FREEDOM. Text copyright © 2015 by Hester Bass. Illustrations
copyright © 2015 by E. B. Lewis. Reproduced by permission of the
publisher, Candlewick Press,
Somerville, MA.

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