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YOU GROW WEARY by Elizabeth Partridge, Viking,  October 2009, 80p., ISBN: 

"In the eyes of a child you will see." -- John  Lodge
Elizabeth Partridge prefaces the first chapter of  MARCHING FOR FREEDOM 
with a series of four photographs that chronicle the  July 8, 1964 arrest of 
young Samuel Newall.  The series begins with Samuel  standing alone in front 
of the Dallas County Courthouse in Selma,  Alabama.  He is quietly holding up 
a handwritten poster board  sign that reads: "One Man One Vote   Freedom   
Register  Now   SNCC"  The photographs record the approach of deputies  and 
the arrest of the young black child for quietly holding up the  voting 
rights poster.  Samuel Newall appears in the photos  to be around nine or ten 
years old.
"Across the United States, people were shocked that Dr.  King encouraged 
children to join in the civil rights struggle.  'A hundred  times I have been 
asked,' he said, 'why we have allowed children to march in  demonstrations, 
to freeze and suffer in jails, to be exposed to bullets and  dynamite.  The 
answer is simple.  Our children and our families are  maimed a little every 
day of our lives.  If we can end an incessant torture  by an single 
climactic confrontation, the risks are acceptable.'"
While Samuel Newall was getting arrested in Selma in  the summer of 1964 
for quietly holding a voting rights protest sign  aloft, I was a nine-year-old 
spending the summer flipping baseball cards, riding  my banana bike, 
playing kickball in the street, swimming at the beach, listening  to the Beatles, 
reading Beverly Cleary, Walter Brooks, and the Sunday funnies,  and 
regularly experiencing feelings of confusion and discomfort over  the films running 
on the nightly newscasts of violence being  perpetrated against Civil Rights 
protesters in the South.  I was an  attentive student -- both at school and 
at catechism -- and what I was  seeing on TV just did not make sense given 
what I was being taught.  What  was it that I was missing?
I stare at these photos of Samuel Newall, a black kid in  Alabama dressed 
in an outfit so similar to those I wore as a child on  Long Island, and I 
think about how easily, by virtue of birth, I could  have been him.
"'Don't worry about your children,' Dr. King had reassured  parents.  
'Don't hold them back if they want to go to jail.'  He was  in awe of their 
willingness and bravery.  'They are doing a job for not  only themselves but for 
all of America and for all of mankind.  They are  carving a tunnel of hope 
through the great mountain of despair.'"
Chronicling in word and in image the brutal  and sometimes deadly events in 
early 1965 that led to the Selma march  and to the subsequent passage of 
the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Elizabeth  Partridge focuses MARCHING FOR 
FREEDOM on the role of children participating in  the Civil Rights movement.  The 
author sought out members of my  generation who were children at the center 
of the action during those  tumultuous and tragic days when peacefully 
protesting Americans were  arrested and sometimes murdered at the hands of 
racist mobs and  Southern white cops.  It is powerful to hear recollections of  
now-grownup-kids who actually can be seen in the forty-four year  old 
photographs that Partridge has selected for the book -- photos  that visually 
immerse readers in the spirit of the Civil Rights movement.  
A fact that is emphasized again and again by these  photos is that the 
local churches played a pivotal role in the  movement.  We repeatedly see the 
young people either singing or  listening intently inside, or standing outside 
their churches.  We  read how the marchers would retreat, oftentimes 
bleeding, to the  sanctuary of a church.  
Count me as one of my generation who grew up to reject  the dictates of the 
church in which I was raised just as surely as I rejected my  father's 
politics.  I was content to grow up and leave both of their  houses.  
Contemplating the significant and positive role that  these churches clearly played 
the lives of these young people in the Civil  Rights movement has me 
wondering about what my children's generation may have  lost out on as a result of 
the widespread disaffection that has caused so many  of my generation to 
reject traditional religious institutions and raise our  children without 
benefit of the community engendered by those  churches. 
"Oh freedom
Oh freedom
Oh freedom over me!
And before I'll be a slave
I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free"

Another reoccurring focus of Partridge's work are the songs of  the 
movement that were being sung inside and outside of those churches.   The author 
asked of those she interviewed about the songs that gave meaning to  their 
struggle, and space amidst the text is provided for samples of those  songs.
"'It's the good times that make you cry,' Charles told  me.  'Not the bad 
times.  You've seen something be accomplished and it  really is 
The times have been really good lately.  I've cried a lot  over the past 
year as I did what I could to help Barack Obama -- who was  a little boy of 
color living in Hawaii while the events  in 1965 Alabama were transpiring -- 
change the course of American  history.  For the little boy still inside of 
me who could not wrap his  mind around the variance between what was being 
taught in school about  the freedoms supposedly enjoyed by Americans, in 
catechism about the teachings  and example set by Jesus, and the state-sanctioned 
violence that was  brought into our Long Island living room on the evening 
news, MARCHING FOR  FREEDOM does a stellar job -- visually and textually -- 
of helping make sense of  what was taking place in those troubled times.  
Through it, young readers should come to recognize that  the most important 
part of becoming an adult in America is  having the right and obligation of 
making informed choices at the ballot  box.  In my lifetime, and for my 
peers, people died to secure that sacred  right.

Richie  Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks 
_BudNotBuddy@aol.com_ ( 
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