Monday, February 11, 2008

Birmingham, 1963

BIRMINGHAM, 1963; Carole Boston Weatherford; Honesdale, PA: Wordsong, 2007; 39 pgs. Nonfiction.

Of all the tragic events of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, none was harder to bear than the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church which killed four young girls. Ms. Weatherford retells this often told story (see The Watsons go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis) with stark economy through the eyes of a young girl who was in church, but didn't follow the older girls into the bathroom because she didn't think they would want her there. Black and white pictures of the time are juxtaposed with blood-red graphics, and the homely artifacts of the girls' lives--birthday candles, a single shoe, a game of jacks--deepen the sorrow. Birmingham, 1963 is an excellent book for explaining the gains and sorrows of the day, when America began her painful shift toward equality and justice for all.

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