Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America

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9780823435685: Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America
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For the fiftieth anniversary of the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman has written a riveting account of this pivotal event in the history of civil rights. In the early 1960s, tensions in the segrated South intensified. Tired of reprisals for attempting to register to vote, Selma's black community began to protest. In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a voting rights march and was attacked by a segregationist. In February, the shooting of an unarmed demonstrator by an Alabama state trooper inspired a march from Selma to the state capital. The event got off to a horrific start on March 7 as law officers brutally attacked peaceful demonstrators. But when vivid footage and photographs of the violence was broadcast throughout the world, the incident attracted widespread outrage and spurred demonstrators to complete the march at any cost. Illustrated with more than forty archival photographs, this is an essential chronicle of events every American should know.

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About the Author:

Russell Freedman is well known for his riveting biographies and masterful accounts of the history of the United States. One of the most honored writers for children, Russell Freedman has been honored with the Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honor Medals, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, and a National Humanities Medal. He travels widely but makes his home in New York City.

Review:

One of the most decorated nonfiction writers in the field brings his style to a well-told story of the struggle for voting rights in the American South. Fifty years ago, as the civil rights movement took hold, the attempts to ensure African-American access to the vote increasingly took center stage. A newly passed Civil Rights Act did not guarantee voting rights, so activists in the South continued to press for them at both the state and federal levels. The barriers to voting—poll taxes, literacy tests, limits on registration—were difficult to overcome. Physical abuse and financial intimidation also kept people from the polls. Activist churches were subject to firebombs and burning. Selma, Ala., became a flashpoint. As Freedman begins his narrative, student activism had propelled teachers and other middle-class blacks to get involved. The death of an unarmed demonstrator drove organizers to plan a march from Selma to the state's capital, Montgomery an attempt that resulted in Bloody Sunday, one of the single most violent moments of the movement, and served to prod action on the Voting Rights Act in Congress. Freedman's meticulous research and elegant prose brings freshness to a story that has b --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery,Freedman (The Boston Tea Party) delivers a thorough account of the context and events leading up to and through this momentous protest. The book's eight chapters pull readers into the decades-long struggle via clear, concise storytelling and myriad quotes from participants, many of them young at the time. "Algebra gave way to activism," writes Freedman. "This explosion of teenage activism alarmed some parents and took the white authorities by surprise." The momentum-building narrative and often-graphic b&w photos captivate as they recount demonstrations big and small: from sit-ins and wade-ins (for desegregated beaches) to the well-known Selma schoolteachers march and Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Freedman details day-by-day the culminating several-thousand-strong march to Montgomery, which spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Current threats to the act are described in an epilogue. A timeline, select bibliography, source notes, and index round out this well-researched story that honors the many who stood up and fought against inequities at the ballot box. --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Like Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2006), in which Freedman detailed events from 1955, his latest historical narrative transports readers to Alabama to experience another significant turning point in the civil rights movement. The story opens in January 1965, when 105 black teachers attempted to register to vote but were met with violence on the courthouse steps in Selma, Alabama. Brutal attacks by segregationists increased during the weeks to come. Soon, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and demonstrators joined Selma's voting-rights campaign, which culminated in a peaceful, triumphant protest march to Montgomery in March and, in August, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The major role played by Selma's courageous teenagers and children makes this a particularly sympathetic and significant story for young Americans. Freedman writes with great immediacy, weaving pertinent first-person accounts into a beautifully written narrative that is moving as well as informative. Tied closely to the text, the many well-chosen black-and-white photos record significant events, capture dramatic moments, and show individuals who took part in these historic events. With a timeless narrative and a timely epilogue, this handsome volume offers a vivid account of a pivotal moment in American history. --Booklist, Starred Review

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