To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Foreword by
Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $22.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-59643-605-3
Reviewed on: 11/07/2011
Release date: 01/03/2012
Paperback - 198 pages - 978-1-250-04062-6
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Emotionally engaging, eye-opening, and thoroughly accessible, this historical memoir (published in association with the New York Times) illustrates how the personal becomes political by placing the author’s individual battle for equal education in the context of the larger civil rights movement. Each chapter opens with front-page Times headlines, beginning with the election of President Barack Obama. Reflecting on the long journey to that historic moment, the author starts with the overturning of the “separate but equal” doctrine in 1954. In 1959, Hunter-Gault applied to the University of Georgia, seeking to open up “the lily-white system of public higher education.” Eventually admitted, she endured harassment and threats: classmates threw a brick through her window, chanting “Two, four six, eight,/ We don’t want to integrate.” Hunter-Gault highlights key political strategies in the struggle for equal rights (lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, voter registration drives); explains philosophical differences between civil rights groups like the NAACP, SCLC, and SNCC; and emphasizes the great personal risks undertaken by individuals seeking change. A time line and several Times articles are included. Equal parts educational and inspiring. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
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