cover image Let Freedom Sing

Let Freedom Sing

Vanessa Newton, . . Blue Apple, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-934706-90-9

The lyrics of Harry Dixon Loes's gospel song “This Little Light of Mine” ring throughout this tribute to individuals who let “their inner light” shine during the civil rights movement. Newton's concise text touches on landmark incidents, underscoring the courage of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., the Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro Four and Ruby Bridges. After referring to Lyndon Johnson's contribution (he “helped to change the law./ Civil rights for everyone”), the narrative leaps rather jarringly to the present, as the president addresses the sprawling crowd at his inauguration: “Speaking to all Americans,/ Barack Obama had a dream./ As President of the United States,/ He let his light shine.” Illustrating the often-repeated refrain, “Let it shine!” are images of the segregated 1950s and '60s: black and white passengers boarding a bus through different doors, children drinking from separate water fountains. Newton's electric-hued digital compositions have a distinctly retro feel, incorporating postage marks, scraps of text and other layered elements. Potentially a conversation starter, the text's vagueness and lack of detail will necessitate outside resources. All ages. (Oct.)