Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Heroes for Civil Rights

Heroes for Civil Rights

David A. Adler
Illustrator:  Bill Farnsworth 
For ages 8 to 10
Holiday House, 2007   ISBN: 978-0823420087

Often when we think of the Civil Rights Movement we think of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. It is true that these two people did indeed play an important role in the struggle for civil rights, but there were many other individuals and groups of people who also risked so much so that people of color could have the same rights that other people had.

In this splendid collection of biographies, David Adler takes a look at the contributions that people of all kinds made to the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa parks are among the people that he writes about, but he also looks at some other people who marched, rode, spoke, and gave their lives for the cause.

He begins by looking at Ralph Abernathy, a man of the church who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and who also preached "love and non-violence." Another person mention in the books is Medgar Evers, who was one of the local leaders in the south. Evers was killed by the people who wanted to make sure that segregation stayed in place. Adler also includes the story of three young men who were part of the drive in 1964 to register African-Americans to vote. Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Henry Schwerner disappeared in June of 1964 and their bodies were found forty-four days later. One of the young men was black and the other two were white.

The stories of those who fell in the line of battle are painful to read, but they give one a very real picture of what it must have been like to be around during this very turbulent time in America's history. There are also stories that have happier endings. There were four young men in Greensboro who staged a sit-in at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Thanks to them, and others who were inspired by them, lunch counters all over the south began to serve African-Americans.

This is a truly inspiring book, one that serves as a fitting tribute to all those brave men, women, and children who fought, through peaceful means, to give people of color the rights that we all take for granted today.