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The teachers march! : how Selma's teachers changed history
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2020
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Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* This stunningly powerful book by a team of award-winning creators should be part of every classroom library and teacher-preparation program. It's the true story of the Reverend F. D. Reese, who taught high school science—as well as freedom and equality. He led by example, organizing marches in Selma to push for voting rights for African Americans. Seeking a more powerful angle, he decided that if the schoolteachers of Selma marched together, they could make a noticeable statement. The narrative provides an unvarnished view of the deep levels of racism and violence that permeated society and aimed to thwart civil rights activism in the 1960s. The Wallaces pack their account with well-researched details so that readers get to know Reverend Reese and others as people as well as activists, and Palmer's vibrant acrylic paintings intensify the urgency of the moment. A particularly striking spread depicts the crowd of teachers brandishing their toothbrushes, symbolizing their readiness to go to jail for freedom if need be. The marching teachers inspired other groups—beauticians, barbers, undertakers—to organize, but most significantly, they inspired students to participate. A timely testament to the power of collectivism and the continued need for widespread civic engagement. Grades 3-5. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Donating a portion of their proceeds to institutions in Selma, Ala., the married coauthors present a vivid nonfiction narrative that illuminates the January 1965 Teachers' March to Selma's Dallas County Courthouse. By highlighting and interweaving the journeys of a few specific people—Rev. F.D. Reese, who led marchers to register to vote; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who visited Selma to speak on voting rights; and Too Sweet, a teacher and single mother who joined the march—the Wallaces eloquently portray the vitality of the group effort as well as the high risk involved in participating in the initial and subsequent Selma marches. Abstract, multilayered acrylic paintings by Palmer ground readers in the action, such as a moving scene in which lines of teachers march. This well-researched picture book proves riveting in its telling of how everyday heroes led a fight that resulted in the Voting Rights Act. Back matter includes creators' notes, a timeline, a selected bibliography, and further resources. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Author Biography

Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace are award-winning writers of nonfiction titles including First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great and Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights, which won the International Literacy Association's Social Justice Award and a YALSA Award nomination for Excellence in Nonfiction. Sandra's picture-book biography Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery is the NCTE 2019 Orbis Pictus winner for Outstanding Nonfiction.

Charly Palmer is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator. He also teaches design, illustration, and painting, most recently at Spelman College. His two recent picture books are There's a Dragon in My Closet and Mama Africa, which won the 2018 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. - (Random House, Inc.)

Annotations

FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!

&; "An alarmingly relevant book that mirrors current events." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers' March.


Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs--and perhaps their lives--by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today. - (Random House, Inc.)

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