Published by Calkins Creek
Summary: When a Black man was falsely found guilty of murder by an all-white jury in 1959, the Black community of Fayette County, Tennessee began a voter registration movement. Led by John McFerren and Harpman Jameson, their actions led to swift reprisals and families lost their jobs and homes. Papa Towles, one of the few Black landowners in the county, pitched army surplus tents on his property and invited families to stay there. Progress was slow, but publicity about the movement began to grow. College students came to Fayette County to help out in the summer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy sent food and other supplies. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 brought about the changes that the original protestors had been seeking, and Black candidates began to win elections in Fayette County. The story includes many different people who played a role and is seen through the eyes of James Jamerson, a boy who spent his childhood with his Uncle Harpman and helped integrate Fayette County High School. Includes a five-page timeline, photos, and a resource guide. 64 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: There’s a lot packed into these 64 pages. The story of Fayette County mirrors the larger civil rights movement going on during this time, with an emphasis on the courage and ingenuity of the Black community activists. The paintings by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe award winner Palmer (author and illustrator of yesterday’s book, Gravity) beautifully capture the people involved in this struggle.
Cons: The book has the look of a picture book, but it’s a complicated story with a large cast of characters that includes information about a lynching. Definitely more of an upper elementary and middle school book.