Cover image for This promise of change : one girl's story in the fight for school equality
Title:
This promise of change : one girl's story in the fight for school equality
ISBN:
9781681198521
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019.
Physical Description:
310 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
"In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students--found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process"-- Provided by publisher.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Interest age level:
Age 10-12.
Interest grade level:
Grade level 4-6.
Holds:

Available:*

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Children's Book 379.263 Boyce
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Children's Book 379.263 Boyce
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Children's Book 379.263 Boyce
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Children's Book 379.263 BOYCE
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Children's Book 379.263 Boyce
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Summary

Summary

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students---found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.


Author Notes

Debbie Levy is the author of many books, including I Dissent; The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells; and Imperfect Spiral. She lives in the Chesapeake Bay area.


Jo Ann Allen Boyce was one of twelve students to desegragate Clinton High School in 1956. She has worked as a professional singer and a nurse. She lives in Los Angeles.


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-This evocatively told, carefully researched memoir-in-verse is the story of a group of 12 teenagers from Clinton, TN, who, in 1956, were among the first black students to pave the way for school integration. Free verse and formal poetry, along with newspaper headlines, snippets of legislation, and other primary sources about national and local history are mixed with Boyce's first-person narrative. The book opens with an overview of life in segregated Clinton and the national events leading up to the desegregation of Clinton High. The rest of the work follows the four months in the fall of 1956 when Boyce and the other 11 teens attended Clinton High. They faced angry white mobs outside the school, constant harassment from white classmates, and a hostile principal who viewed integration as a legal choice rather than a moral one. The book includes an introduction and epilogue, authors' notes, brief biographies of the involved students, photographs, a time line, and a bibliography. The writing invites readers to cheer on Boyce for her optimism and her stubbornness in the face of racism, without singling her out as a solitary hero. This story adeptly shows readers that, like the Clinton Twelve, they too can be part of something greater than themselves. VERDICT A must-buy for tweens and teens, especially where novels-in-verse are popular.-Erica Ruscio, formerly at Rockport Public Library, MA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Boyce, one of 12 black students who integrated Clinton, Tennessee's public high school in August 1956, following racial desegregation, relays the story of that harrowing experience in verse. Levy (I Dissent) notes that poetry is a particularly appropriate choice, given the "musicality" of her coauthor's voice, which is also insightful, immediate, and passionate. Recognizing the duplicity of the courtordered integration, Boyce writes: "We're in, yes./ But it's more complicated than that./ Or, looked at another way-it's simpler./ ...You can't stay after school,/ when the fun stuff is whitesonly./ Glee club, football, cheerleading?/ No, no, and no./ Simple. That's the complication." Boyce poignantly describes the cruelty of white students, as "the little shoves" become "the shove that almost knocks Gail Ann out the window... From the little slights/ come the larger evils,/ and they feel/ monstrous." While she acknowledges that it's difficult "to change a promise of change/ into real change," Boyce never loses hope in the belief that racial equality is attainable and that she can help make it happen. Though her parents (fearing for their safety) moved the family to California in December 1956, and Boyce left Clinton, readers will appreciate that she did make a difference by standing up for her beliefs with resolve and persistence, attributes that shine through in this lyrical yet hardhitting account of a pivotal chapter in the history of desegregation. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In 1956 in the small town of Clinton, Tennessee, twelve African American students integrated the all-white high school. Jo Ann Allen Boyce, one of the Clinton 12, narrates this first-person account. She lives with her family up on the Hill, a part of the city that was settled by formerly enslaved people after the Civil War. Jo Ann and her family are active in their church, and her knowledge of religious songs and biblical history is threaded throughout the memoir. The book consists of free-verse passages that often include rhyme and employ various forms such as pantoum and villanelle. (One haiku titled And Then There Are the Thumbtacks reads: Scattered on our chairs / A prank straight out of cartoons / They think we dont look?) Boyces character evolves throughout the book. Though not naive about racism early on, she later fully experiences the weight of white supremacy. Even her white neighbors on the Hill turn on her family members once they are perceived as stepping out of their place. Newspaper headlines and clips, excerpts from the Constitution, and examples of artifacts such as signs held by protesters (We Wont Go to School with Negroes) are interspersed throughout. This fine addition to texts about the integration of public schools during the civil rights era in the United States concludes with an epilogue, biographical information about the Clinton 12, a scrapbook of photographs, source notes, and a timeline. jonda c. mcnair January/February 2019 p 111(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Students of school-desegregation history know of the Little Rock 9, but probably fewer are familiar with the Clinton 12, who integrated a Tennessee high school a full year earlier, in 1956. Boyce, one of the 12, recounts her story in a series of moving narrative poems that detail mid-twentieth-century segregation practices in the South; introduce her family and their place in the town; describe the early, relatively civilized integration of the school; and explain how the introduction of outside agitators heightened tensions and led to violence. Boyce's positive attitude about her experiences invites reader identification. Yes, she and others endured unrelenting pressure and threats, but the cause was important and the results worthwhile. The poems (mostly free verse with a sprinkling of other forms) personalize this history, and interspersed newspaper headlines and quotes situate the response of the larger world. Generous back matter includes additional information about the Clinton 12, a time line, period photos, sources, and further reading. Engrossing, informative, and important for middle-grade collections.--Kay Weisman Copyright 2018 Booklist