Synopses & Reviews
and#160; Before the Little Rock Nine, before Rosa Parks, before Martin Luther King Jr. and his March on Washington, there was Barbara Rose Johns, a teenager who used nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to her cause. In 1951, witnessing the unfair conditions in her racially segregated high school, Barbara Johns led a walkoutand#151;the first public protest of its kind demanding racial equality in the U.S.and#151;jumpstarting the American civil rights movement. Ridiculed by the white superintendent and school board, local newspapers, and others, and even after a cross was burned on the school grounds, Barbara and her classmates held firm and did not give up. Her schooland#8217;s case went all the way to the Supreme Court and helped end segregation as part of Brown v. Board of Education
Barbara Johns grew up to become a librarian in the Philadelphia school system. The Girl from the Tar Paper School mixes biography with social history and is illustrated with family photos, images of the school and town, and archival documents from classmates and local and national news media. The book includes a civil rights timeline, bibliography, and index.
Praise for The Girl from the Tar Paper School
"An important glimpse into the early civil rights movement."
"Based largely on interviews, memoirs, and other primary source material, and liberally illustrated with photographs, this well-researched slice of civil rights history will reward readers who relish true stories of unsung heroes."
and#151;The Bulletin of The Center for Childrenand#8217;s Books
"Kanefield (Rivka's Way) reveals Barbara Johns as an unsung civil rights pioneer in this biography for middle-grade readers. As the architect of a student strike in the segregated American south of the 1950s, Johns drew attention to the substandard school conditions she and fellow African-American classmates endured, often in classrooms with tar papered walls. 'When it rained, the roofs leaked.... Some students sat under umbrellas so the ink on their papers wouldn't run.' In piecing together this account of the courageous, outspoken Johns and the strike at Virginia's Moton High School, the author mines several sources, including Johns' handwritten memoir and interviews Kanefield conducted with Johns's family and friends. Numerous archival and contemporary photos appear throughout, and sidebars cover segregation, the KKK, and other relevant topics. While Johns' innovative, nonviolent protest against racial inequity didn't play out as expected, it did end up a part of the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, helping bring an end to school segregation. This stirring tribute to Johns is an important addition to any student collection of civil rights books. Ages 10 14." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
and#160; Teri Kanefield
is a lawyer and a writer. She holds an MA in English with an emphasis in fiction writing from the University of California, Davis, and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives with her family in San Francisco, California.