cover image Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

James Haskins, , illus. by Benny Andrews. . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2592-4

The late Haskins (The Story of Stevie Wonder ) sheds light on a little-known hero of the civil rights movement, Westley Wallace Law. The book begins in 1932: as a child, Law lived with his grandmother in Savannah, Ga., while his mother worked as a live-in housekeeper for a white family. Brief vignettes describe early events that troubled the boy: a saleswoman's condescending attitude toward his grandmother, the city's widespread segregation and the fact that "no matter how hard his mother worked, they were still poor." He promised himself that he would heed his grandmother's prayer that he become "a leader of our people." His early efforts began with helping black people prepare for a test required in order to register to vote. By day delivering mail (the college-educated Westley wanted to be a teacher, but no Savannah school would hire him because he was an NAACP member), Law devoted his free time to organizing anti-segregation campaigns—always emphasizing the need to protest without violence. In an extraordinary achievement largely due to Law's leadership, Savannah became the first Southern U.S. city "to declare all its citizens equal, three years before the federal Civil Rights Act." An afterword chronicles his later public service works. Though Andrews's stylized oil and collage illustrations may be better suited to mood pieces (such as his work in The Hickory Chair ; Sky Sash So Blue ), than to the real-life events here, he nonetheless endows Law with a sense of stature and poise in the hero's portraits. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)