for Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford
Child’s-eye details ground Carole Boston Weatherford’s story of the Civil Rights movement in 1963, especially in Birmingham, Alabama. Her spare and deeply affecting narrative poem gradually builds to the church bombing in that city in which four African American girls were murdered. There is a shocking numbness in the matter-of-fact voice of the fictional narrator, a young girl describing significant events in that year. “The year I turned ten / I missed school to march with other children / For a seat at whites-only lunch counters.” That terrible Sunday in May is also her birthday: “The day I turned ten . . . / My brother sopped red-eye gravy with biscuits . . . The day I turned ten / Someone tucked a bundle of dynamite / Under the church steps / Then lit the fuse of hate.” The young narrator goes on to remember each of the four girls, ending with these poignant, painful lines about Carole Robinson: “Carole, who thought she might want / To teach history someday / Or at least make her mark on it.” Archival photographs on each two-page spread provide haunting and disturbing visual imagery (e.g., firehoses on marchers, a hooded Klansman, the heavily damaged church, four smiling faces in school photographs). Extensive notes at the volume’s end elaborate on historical details referenced in the poem and photographs of this compelling work. (Age 10 and older)
CCBC Choices 2008. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008. Used with permission.
A poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs and water cannons. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which served as a meeting place for civil rights organizers. The explosion killed four little girls. Their murders shocked the nation and turned the tide in the struggle for equality. A Jane Addams Children's Honor Book, here is a book that captures the heartbreak of that day, as seen through the eyes of a fictional witness. Archival photographs with poignant text written in free verse offer a powerful tribute to the young victims.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.