Books: Non-Fiction

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement

Book — Non-fiction. By Teri Kanefield. 2014. 56 pages.
Illustrated book of a teenager who led a student walk out to protest substandard conditions at a Virginia high school in 1951.

Time Periods: 1850, 20th Century
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Education, Organizing

girlfromthetarpaperschool9781419707964Lessons on Brown v. Board of Education should not begin with the 1954 Supreme Court decision but, instead, with the decades of activism that led to the historic ruling. And there is no better way to hook students than with the school walkout led by 15-year-old Barbara Rose Johns in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in 1951.

Carefully planned with a sworn-to-secrecy group of fellow high school students, Johns arranged to have the principal called out of the building and then held a high school assembly to announce the walkout to demand a new school building.

The preparation and the years of struggle that ensued are told in this well-written and beautifully illustrated book for middle school. [Description by Rethinking Schools.]

ISBN: 9781419707964 | Abrams Books for Young Readers


Read more in the National Endowment for the Humanities article, “Massive Resistance in a Small Town” and at the SNCC Digital Gateway.