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Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movementby Ann Bausum
Synopses & Reviews
How did two youths-one raised in an all-black community in the deep South, the other brought up with only whites in the Midwest-become partners for freedom during the civil rights movement of the 1960s?
Freedom Riders compares and contrasts the childhoods of John Lewis and James Zwerg in a way that helps young readers understand the segregated experience of our nation's past. It shows how a common interest in justice created the convergent path that enabled these young men to meet.
This book introduces young readers (grade 5 and up) to the concept of nonviolent resistance as practiced by Zwerg, Lewis, and their classmates in Nashville, Tennessee. These students broke the color barrier at local movie theaters using this form of protest.
Freedom Riders conveys the history of the Freedom Rides through the shared experiences of Lewis and Zwerg. No other book on the subject has used such a personal perspective. These two young men, empowered by their successes in Nashville, were among those who volunteered to continue the Freedom Rides after violence in Anniston, Alabama, left the original bus in flames with the riders injured and in retreat. Lewis and Zwerg joined the cause knowing their own fate could be equally harsh, if not worse, when the Freedom Ride penetrated deeper into the South.
When these new participants arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, Zwerg and Lewis were singled out by a mob numbering in the hundreds armed with chains, bats, and hammers. The two youths were nearly beaten to death before police stepped forward to end the violence. The two surviving photographs from their experience provide testimony to the severity of their attacks. Release of these images along with accounts of the violence in Montgomery served to focus national attention on the Freedom Rides. Waves of volunteers came South to continue them.
Freedom Riders summarizes the history of the subsequent rides and their success at ending discriminatory seating on Southern interstate bus service. It concludes by relatingthe divergent paths of Lewis and Zwerg. Lewis rose to prominence with continued participation in the civil rights movement. He became a U.S. Congress member in 1986. Zwerg, at the encouragement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., took up the ministry, a career he continued for 20 years until turning to community service and business.
The book is stunningly illustrated with 50 duotoned historical photos and detailed maps. It includes a resource guide of landmarks and references and a related chronology.
Thatand#8217;s the Stonewall.
The Stonewall Inn.
History walks through that door.
In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. It meant living a closeted life or surviving on the fringes of society. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. Most doctors considered homosexuality a mental illness. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York Cityand#8217;s Greenwich Village, was one of them.
Police raids on gay bars happened regularly in this era. But one hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. Anger and frustration boiled over.
The raid became a riot.
The riot became a catalyst.
The catalyst triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.
Ann Bausumand#8217;s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.
About the Author
Ann Bausum writes about history for readers of all ages. Stonewall is her twelfth book and her first book for Viking. Ann has written frequently about social justice history in the United States, including the fight for womenand#8217;s voting rights (With Courage and Cloth), the 1961 struggle for integrated interstate transportation in the South (Freedom Riders), and the Memphis, Tennessee, campaign to unionize sanitation workers that led to the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Marching to the Mountaintop). Among other recognitions, her books for children and teens have received a Sibert Honor, the Jane Addams Childrenand#8217;s Book Award, the Golden Kite Award, and, on two occasions, the Carter G. Woodson Award. Ann lives in southern Wisconsin. Visit her website at www.AnnBausum.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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