Sunday, February 19, 2017

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game


Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game
By John Coy
Illustrated by Randy DuBurke
Carolrhoda Books, 2015. Informational.

On March 12, 1944, members of the Duke University basketball team crossed to the other side of town to play the North Carolina College of Negroes basketball team. Coach John McLendon believed that basketball could change people’s prejudices and set up this secret game—which was illegal at the time due to segregation laws. The Eagles played a fast-paced game that attacked the net, showcasing the future style of basketball, and in the end, the score was Duke 44 -- Eagles 88. After the game ended, they mixed up the teams to play around and ended up hanging out, talking. They all agreed to keep the game a secret so no would get in trouble, but prejudices were changed that day.

A remarkable little known story about a young coach’s courage to challenge segregation in a small way. DuBruke’s watercolors create the feeling of reading a newspaper, capturing the era, to compliment the story. A must read for any basketball fan and a great book to open a discussion about segregation and civil rights with children.

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