Books: Non-Fiction

The Young Crusaders: The Untold Story of the Children and Teenagers Who Galvanized the Civil Rights Movement

Book — Non-fiction. By V. P. Franklin. 2021. 328 pages.
This books tells the story of the hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers who engaged in sit-ins, school strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other national civil rights leaders played little or no part.
Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Organizing

The Young Crusaders tells the story of the hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers who engaged in sit-ins, school strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other national civil rights leaders played little or no part.

It was these young activists who joined in the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history: the system-wide school boycott in New York City on February 3, 1964, where over 360,000 elementary and secondary school students went on strike and thousands attended freedom schools. Later that month, tens of thousands of children and teenagers participated in the “Freedom Day” boycotts in Boston and Chicago, also demanding “quality integrated education.”

Distinguished historian V. P. Franklin illustrates how their ingenuity made these and numerous other campaigns across the country successful in bringing about the end to legalized racial discrimination. It was these unheralded young people who set the blueprint for today’s youth activists and their campaigns to address poverty, joblessness, educational inequality, and racialized violence and discrimination.

Understanding the role of children and teenagers transforms how we understand the Civil Rights Movement and the broader part young people have played in shepherding social and educational progress, and it serves as a model for the youth-led “reparatory justice” campaigns seen today mounted by Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the Sunrise Movement.

Highlighting the voices of the young people themselves, Franklin offers a redefining narrative, complemented by arresting archival images.  [Publisher’s description]

ISBN: 9780807040072 | Beacon Press

Learn more at The Young Crusaders website.

Filling a void in our understanding of the civil rights movement, V. P. Franklin presents the remarkable and largely untold story of young peoples’ central role in the movement. The Young Crusaders reveals the unheralded work of children and teens, showcasing the incredible power of youth activism for our time, for all time. — Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award–winning and #1 New York Times best-selling author

Find other examples of youth activism from 2001 to 2016 at the archived site, What Kids Can Do.

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