Anne (netmouse) wrote,
Anne
netmouse

Civil rights reading for young people

If you know a teenager or college student who has any interest in the history of civil rights, I highly recommend for him or her the book I'm reading now, a mother-daughter narrative by Florida activist Patricia Stephens Due and her daughter, writer Tananarive Due. It's called Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. Pat was one of the protesters who was arrested doing sit-ins at lunch counters and other protests when she was in college and writes a fascinating story about what it was like to be young and black and female at that time (as well as part of a mixed-race extended family, and eventually the wife of civil rights lawyer John Due). Tananarive was in college during the time when people were pushing South Africa to free Mandela and end Apartheid. Her story involves more of the current tension of growing up in a mostly integrated but sometimes still dramatically segregated society. Both authors start their stories when they are young, so they tell their own coming-of-age stories -- though they are very different, since there were many changes from one generation to the next. I think I would have found this very interesting when I was sixteen, which was when I read The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri Tepper and first started really thinking about power and politics and how to create the sort of society you want to live in. Freedom in the Family is very readable. I haven't finished it yet, but so far it's also much more encouraging about individual and group empowerment than another book I read recently, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, which is a huge historical narrative about the migration North and West from 1910-1960, and has a rather bittersweet and sad end though it's also very well written.

Tananarive is mostly known as a horror author, but through this book I found out she also wrote a YA novel of historical fiction called The Black Rose: The Dramatic Story of Madam C.J. Walker, America's First Black Female Millionaire, which was heavily researched by both her and Alex Haley, who started the project before he died. I'm planning to check that out too.
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