Can you imagine what it was like to grow up during the Jim Crow era? Think about what it was like for African American students who had to attend “separate but equal” schools. Then, imagine what it was like for these same students to attend unwelcomed, desegregated schools. In Remember: The Journey to School Integration, Toni Morrison writes about school desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement. She specifically examines how individuals, both black and white, challenged discriminatory laws and values to enable a better and equal life for African Americans.
A profound primary source that Morrison includes in this book is a newspaper section from the New York Times. Although it had many articles, the headliner read, “High Court Bans School Segregations; 9-0 Decision Grants Time To Comply.” This one article indicated that not everyone believed in “separate but equal.” She also includes many pictures that will help her audience, teenagers, to understand the challenges that she and other children faced. These pictures also help students to visualize the color barriers, such as white water fountains and black water fountains or the colored entrance of the movie theater. There are also pictures of sit-ins, protests, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
However, not all the pictures are sad. There are pictures that depict black and white children smiling at one another and getting to know one another. The most compelling picture that touched my heart were the four little girls who were killed in the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing. As I looked at their pictures, I wondered what their lives would have been like had they not been killed? After reading this book, I thought about the stories my relatives shared with me about their experiences during this time period. Lastly, this is my favorite quote in the book: “They are trying to scare me. I guess they don’t have any children of their own. But didn’t grownups used to be little kids who knew how it felt to be scared?” This quote is self-explanatory.
Overall, this is a great book for students to read, specifically individuals in middle/jr. high school and high school, as readers can learn about a time in history in which children were affected. I give this book give this a five-star rating.
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