I want to tell you about some of the books on the Civil Rights Movement and the African American experience which we have in Plymouth Library. Step through the door to the library, and you can find Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights which is part of Life Magazine's "Great Photographer Series". Then there are The Thunder of Angels: the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People who Broke the Back of Jim Crow by Donnie Williams and Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine. Combine these with the film, Boycott, starring C.C.H. Pounder (DVD F BOY).

New to the library is the three volume March, a National Book Award Winner by civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis. This is his story, told in the form of a graphic novel. Also new is the movie Selma which features the culminating event in Lewis' March and another DVD, John Lewis: Get In the Way.

There are biographies of such people as Thurgold Marshall (Dream Makers, Dream Breakers) and Bayard Rustin (We are One).  We are One traces the life of an important, but lesser-known, civil-rights activist.  His Quaker upbringing and the influence of Gandhi's methods of non-violent protest shaped his life-long activism.  Years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, Rustin was beaten and taken to jail for the same "offense".  He sat in at lunch counters decades before sit-ins.  He organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom which attracted a quarter of a million people to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King talk about his dream.  However, his student involvement with the Communist party and his homosexuality for a time relegated him to a footnote in the history books. In An easy burden : the civil rights movement and the transformation of America, Andrew Young writes about his experiences.

Don't miss the DVD Voices of Civil Rights: "From the fearless resolve of a single woman to the remarkable voice of thousands marching, this History Channel special offers an overview of one of America's great defining periods. A compilation of materials on the civil rights movement, from personal narratives of life in the period, to insights into the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, to the 1965 march on Montgomery, along with biographies of two of the leaders of the movement." - publisher's summary.

Of course, there are also biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as a video cassette of some of his speeches. Tom Brokaw takes viewers through the extraordinary life and times of America's civil rights visionary in King( DVD 323 KIN). Read King's words in I have a dream : writings and speeches that changed the world (323.092 KIN).

You might also be interested in Colored People, a memoir by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., or his Arts and Letters: an A-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African American Experience.  Local author, Daryl Grigsby, wrote In Their Footsteps: Inspirational Reflections on Black History for Every Day of the Year

Another new book in the Library is The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B Tyson. It tells the story of what really happened that day in 1955, based on new revelations from the woman who accused Till, an action that ended in his brutal murder.  A Wreath for Emmett Till is a series of powerful poems written by Marilyn Nelson as a "heroic crown of sonnets".  It's a tiny book, but memorable for the heartbreaking story, the style of the poetry, and the stunning illustrations. Another book of poetry is Miss Crandall's School. With poems by Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson, and illustrations by Floyd Cooper, this book tells the true story of Miss Crandall who ran a school for "young ladies and little misses of color" in the 1830s.  The idea was too radical for the residents of Canterbury, Connecticut, who poisoned the school's well and later set the schoolhouse on fire.  Each poem - in sonnet form - explores an incident in the life of the school and its students.


The name Barbara Rose Johns may not be familiar to you. As a student in 1951, she fought to improve conditions in her racially segregated high school by leading a walkout. This was the first public protest of its kind in the U.S. Of course, she didn't stop there. Read her story in The girl from the tar paper school : Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of the civil rights movement by Teri Kanefield.

Some of you may have read the popular novel, The Help by Katherine Stockett (F STO), which takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil Rights era, I was interested in getting some background information on what went on in Jackson.  Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers (323.1196 BOW) is “the true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the civil rights movement”.  In 1956, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was created to protect segregation in the state.  This book draws on the archives of the Sovereignty Commission and interviews with surviving participants from both sides of the fight for integration.  Fascinating reading. Covering much of the same ground as The HelpSources of Light by Margaret McMullan (F MCM) might be a little grittier.  It's 1962. Jackson, Mississippi.  Lunch counter sit-ins.  Beatings.  Shootings.  Fourteen-year old Samantha, or Sam as she is called, sees it all through the lens of her camera.  

Some more books and movies are The Beatitudes : from slavery to civil rights by Carole Weatherford (J 323 WEA) and Church people in the struggle : the National Council of Churches and the Black freedom movement, 1950-1970 by James Findlay (261.8 FIN). Dare not walk alone (DVD 323 DAR) is "An emotional march from past to present combining the rarely seen news footage from 1964 with present day testimony to tell the true story of troubled times in the historic tourist town of St. Augustine, Florida.  And this is just the beginning!  Come in and see what Plymouth Library has for you.