This critical civil rights book for middle-graders examines the little-known Tennessee's Fayette County Tent City Movement in the late 1950s and reveals what is possible when people unite and fight for the right to vote. Powerfully conveyed through interconnected stories and told through the eyes of a child, this book combines poetry, prose, and stunning illustrations to shine light on this forgotten history.
The late 1950s was a turbulent time in Fayette County, Tennessee. Black and White children went to different schools. Jim Crow signs hung high. And while Black hands in Fayette were free to work in the nearby fields as sharecroppers, the same Black hands were barred from casting ballots in public elections.
If they dared to vote, they faced threats of violence by the local Ku Klux Klan or White citizens. It wasn't until Black landowners organized registration drives to help Black citizens vote did change begin--but not without White farmers' attempts to prevent it. They violently evicted Black sharecroppers off their land, leaving families stranded and forced to live in tents. White shopkeepers blacklisted these families, refusing to sell them groceries, clothes, and other necessities.
But the voiceless did finally speak, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which legally ended voter discrimination.
Perfect for young readers, teachers/librarians, and parents interested in books for kids with themes of:
• Social justice
• Civil rights
• Black history
In this absorbing collection of profiles including of parents and children, farmers, students, and the ghost of a lynched Black man, Thomas Brooks Duncan illuminates the grassroots Fayette County Tent City Movement in late-1950s Tennessee, which opposed racial terror aimed at Black voters and eventually helped lead to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As the Black residents of Fayette County take a stand and register to vote, white citizens do all they can to discourage them, denying them groceries, gas, and shelter. Duncan follows the Black activists in quietly compelling prose: about schoolteacher Minnie Jameson, "while Harpman bellowed over bowls of steamy collards and yams about Negro voting rights, Minnie would declare, That school board can take my job, but they cannot take my self-respect.' " Palmer's abstract spreads, rendered in surreal-colored acrylic, offer mesmerizing visual accompaniment. An empathic tribute that will resonate amid present-day conversations about voter suppression. Back matter includes a timeline and author's and illustrator's notes. Ages 9 12.