Did you know that one year before the Little Rock Nine, in Clinton, Tennessee, 12 Black students desegregated their high school? Their dramatic story is told by one of the 12 students — Jo Ann Allen Boyce — in collaboration with children’s book author Debbie Levy.
In This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality, they use free verse interspersed with quotes from newspapers, white supremacist protest signs, preachers’ sermons, and other primary documents from the time.
Through the voice of Jo Ann, the reader learns of the strength of the Black community and how much is sacrificed and risked by the Black students to go to the previously all-white high school.
The white community riots, which leads to the National Guard being sent to Clinton for the month of September. The Klan also has a strong presence.
One entry from the book reads:
Wednesday September 26, When word comes the Ku Klux Klan is driving up the Hill, my father gets his gun.
We live here.
He won’t run. . . .
When word comes my dad’s in jail — my dad! And not the bombers!
His crime? There’s only one: A Black man with a gun.
Highly recommended for grades 7+. [Description from Rethinking Schools.]
ISBN: 9781681198521 | Bloomsbury Publishing PLC