Seeds of Freedom: the Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bas, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Published by Candlewick

Summary:  While other southern towns were rocked by violence during the civil rights movement, Huntsville, Alabama worked hard to integrate peacefully.  Known as “the space center of the universe”, Huntsville had a bit more of a national reputation as a place where rockets were being designed and built.  But life wasn’t as good for all its citizens, and they decided to take some of the actions that were taking place in other cities across the south.  There were lunch counter sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations.  When a dentist’s wife and baby daughter were put in jail, Huntsville found itself in the national headlines.  The town had more at stake, with the threat of losing federal funding.  Slowly, businesses started to allow blacks, then the hospital, bowling alley, and movie theater.  School integration proved a little rockier, but on September 9, 1963, the first African-American child entered a white public school without incident.

Pros:  This is an inspiring story of dignity and courage demonstrated by both blacks and whites in Huntsville.  The uglier side of integration isn’t ignored, but the main theme is planting seeds of peace and what it took to make them grow in Huntsville.  The present tense voice lends an immediacy to the story, more than 50 years after it unfolded.

Cons:  While this is in picture book format, there’s quite a bit of text.  Kids in the primary grades would need a good deal of guidance to get through it.

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