Let's start with The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (Atheneum, Books for Young Readers, 2017) https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781481400701
Audrey was inspired by their friend Mike, who used to sit at their dinner table, say grace and talk about civil rights, while enjoying "hot rolls baptized in butter". Mike would talk about segregation and that "An unjust law is no law at all." Audrey knew that meant that it was right to stand up to segregation and laws that forced her to use the back of the bus, never sit at the lunch counter, or drink from the 'white fountain'.
If you haven't guessed, 'Mike' is Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (Mike was the name given him at birth, his father was Mike Sr., Mike Sr. changed both their names to Martin Luther after the religious reformer).
Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend James Bevel called for protest at Monday night church services at Reverend Shuttlesworth's church. The congregation would sing songs like We Shall Overcome and then congregants would give testimonies about how segregation and racism were affecting their lives.
At first, there was a call for 'filling the jails' with adult protesters, but adults were too afraid (and with good reason). "Boss man will fire me! Landlord will evict me! Policemen will beat me!"
Reverend Bevel came up with a new idea, "If grown-ups won't do it, fill the jails...with children!"
Audrey immediately wanted to participate (keep in mind, she was 9 years old), and with her parents' blessing, she showed up two days later in a nice outfit (protesters should look nice) and with a game her father gave her and walked out in the street with all the other children. She was the youngest one there, but she kept her head high and sang loudly "Ain't gonna le-e-t nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round."
Audrey and all the marchers were arrested that first day. Prison was miserable, lonely (she was so much younger than the others), the bed was awful and the food was worse.
BUT, children marched every day until by the 5th day the PRISONS WERE FULL! After a week, Audrey and the others were sent home.
Now, I love this book and I love learning about Audrey, but I do find the pages that follow the protest a bit simplistic. "No one else could be sent to jail. Everything had changed."
It makes sense in a way, since this book is written for younger readers, so this is a good 'entry' book to the Civil Rights Movement. However we do know that it wasn't this easy and even though Birmingham took the segregation laws off the books two months later (this is 1963), it didn't mean that African Americans had an easy time sitting at lunch counters, getting jobs, or, of course, voting.
Sadly, this book is even more timely, given that we are seeing a resurgence in voter suppression (specifically of voters of color). The Youngest Marcher reminds us that battles are never over and that we all can (and MUST) speak up and take action when we see injustice in our world.
p.s. As a DELICIOUS bonus, there is the Hendricks' family recipe for 'rolls baptized in butter'.
We've Got a Job :The 1963 Birmingham Children's March By by Cynthia Levinson, (Peachtree Publishers)