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Book Review: Speaking Out

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also in This Series

Cultures Collide
New Beginnings
Independence Now
Freedom Struggle
Railroad Fever
Bright Ideas
Created Equal
Moving North

This book is a logical extension of the previous book in the Crossroads America series, Moving North. Speaking Out picks up in the 1950s, after the great African-American migration that ended in so much heartbreak for so many hopeful people.

The usual suspects appear: Brown v. Board; Jackie Robinson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; the NAACP; the Little Rock Nine; Thurgood Marshall; Rosa Parks; Malcolm X; and more. The inclusion of Malcolm X is interesting in that he advocated a more militant form of securing civil rights than did King. Many books on this subject will overlook Malcolm X's contributions to the movement.

The photos are chilling in the events that they portray, and the frozen-in-time quality of many of these photos make those events appear as (frighteningly) real today as they were then. The hate and animosity that white people felt for black people is very evident. A welcome addition is a two-page spread of photographs with the heading Primary Sources, which teachers can use as a springboard for further research.

Another selling point of this book is the way in which the words describe complicated things without themselves being complicated. This is sometimes difficult to do, especially given events of this magnitude and context; the author succeeds in this endeavor and presents a compelling introduction to a momentous period in history.

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