Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers' March.
Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs--and perhaps their lives--by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today.
About the Author
Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace are award-winning writers of nonfiction titles including First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great and Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights, which won the International Literacy Association's Social Justice Award and a YALSA Award nomination for Excellence in Nonfiction. Sandra's picture-book biography Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery is the NCTE 2019 Orbis Pictus winner for Outstanding Nonfiction.
Charly Palmer is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator. He also teaches design, illustration, and painting, most recently at Spelman College. His two recent picture books are There's a Dragon in My Closet and Mama Africa, which won the 2018 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award.
FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!
Booklist Editor's Choice
NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book
Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year
Notable Book for a Global Society
Finalist, Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
Eureka! Nonfiction Silver Honor Award (California Reading Association)
★ "This picture book captures the true story of the African American teachers who marched in Selma, AL, to fight for African Americans’ right to vote. This inspiring title shows how the actions of everyday citizens can drive change. Palmer’s powerful illustrations bring additional depth and necessary perspective to the subject. A necessary addition to every library and history curriculum. Every reader should know about this pivotal moment in the civil rights movement." —School Library Journal, starred review
★ "This stunningly powerful book by a team of award-winning creators should be part of every classroom library and teacher-preparation program. It’s the true story of the Reverend F. D. Reese, who taught high school science—but also freedom and equality. The narrative provides an unvarnished view of the deep levels of racism and violence that permeated society and aimed to thwart civil rights activism in the 1960s. The Wallaces pack their account with well-researched details so that readers get to know Reverend Reese and others as people as well as activists, and Palmer’s vibrant acrylic paintings intensify the urgency of the moment. A timely testament to the power of collectivism and the continued need for widespread civic engagement." —Booklist, starred review
★ "This little-known march during the civil rights era is considered the catalyst for the other marches that shortly followed. This book does a masterful job of detailing the impetus for the teachers march. It is clearly communicated that the march was not spontaneous but carefully thought out—down to the teachers’ packing food and toothbrushes in case they were arrested. Palmer’s brushy paintings are full of color, detail, and emotion. The narrative is well paced and will work brilliantly as a read-aloud for patient, older preschoolers and early elementary–age children, and it should spark many a conversation about race and protest. An alarmingly relevant book that mirrors current events." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "A vivid nonfiction narrative that illuminates the January 1965 Teachers’ March to Selma’s Dallas County Courthouse. By highlighting and interweaving the journeys of a few specific people—Rev. F.D. Reese...Dr. Martin Luther King Jr....and Too Sweet, a teacher and single mother who joined the march—the Wallaces eloquently portray the vitality of the group effort as well as the high risk involved in participating in the initial and subsequent Selma marches. Abstract, multilayered acrylic paintings by Palmer ground readers in the action. This well-researched picture book proves riveting in its telling of how everyday heroes led a fight that resulted in the Voting Rights Act." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Reverend F. D. Reese was a Selma, Alabama science teacher at a Black high school by profession, and an activist at heart. Repeatedly turned down when he attempted to register to vote, he...cajol[ed] his fellow teachers to stand up as community leaders by marching to the county courthouse en masse to demand voting rights. The Wallaces base their account of this overlooked episode on a variety of resources, including interviews with Reese and other marchers. [It's]...a useful documentation of a key moment in the civil rights struggle. The image of toothbrush-wielding teachers facing down a bigoted sheriff is undeniably powerful, and Charly Palmer’s muscular paintings convey the dignity and determination of these local heroes." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery is well known. Less known is the teachers’ march (which happened six weeks before). This book dramatizes how the teachers planned their protest, risking imprisonment and violence, leaving the classroom and taking to the streets, holding 'their toothbrushes in the air, ready to go to jail for freedom.' The lively text...mak[es] for dramatic reading...[and] Palmer’s beautifully lit acrylic-on-board paintings...are at times impressionistic or, as he writes in the illustrator’s note, 'abstract and primal.'" —The Horn Book
"At this time in history, this book marks an incredible find. This obscure story gives us an excellent opportunity to teach even young children the importance of civil action. Educators could easily use this picture book to share a little of the real history of the turbulent 1960’s with their students." —School Library Connection