Saturday, January 7, 2017

12 Incredible Facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Lois Sepahban: Book Review

"Turning Points in U.S. History" (series)
12 Incredible Facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Author: Lois Sepahban
Publisher: Peterson Publishing Company, 2016
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Ages: 8-12, MG nonfiction
Pages: 32

Montgomery, Alabama’s bus boycott in December 1955 was the onset of the Civil Rights Movement. After passage of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment in 1868  stating that all citizens (born or naturalized), were equal under the law, white southerners in general refused to comply. Laws were passed to segregate the recently freed slaves from full participation in society, banning them from white schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, and more. Eighty-seven years later racial segregation persisted. In 1955, discrimination against blacks in transportation was common, including refusal of service by white taxicab drivers and busing laws that ruled blacks sit in the bus’s rear. Such laws represent the first of twelve facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

Most know the story of black resident Rosa Parks (fact two), who sat in the white section of a Montgomery bus refusing to give up her seat, an act that resulted in her arrest. Others before her had protested similarly, like fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, but Rosa’s arrest was the final straw in the ongoing discrimination. As a result, 95% of Montgomery’s black community refused to ride the buses in protest (fact three). Montgomery police attempted to arrest the boy-cotters, but the blacks remained peaceful and stayed out of sight (fact four). Finally, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. voiced his support of Rosa at a rally (fact five), drawing a crowd of 5000 blacks (fact six). 

Meanwhile, Montgomery church volunteers drove the boy-cotters to their jobs, as the bus companies refused to budge (facts seven and eight). King’s arrest soon followed and police began ticketing the volunteer drivers (fact nine). Unfortunately, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) violence erupted next, including the bombing of King’s home (fact ten). Some boy-cotters (115) were then indicted (fact eleven), but in June 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of blacks on public buses was unconstitutional (fact twelve), ending the boycott. Complete with glossary, photos, and key dates, Sepahban's book is one of many written on the Civil Rights Movement, but the period remains a pivotal time in American history, which needs to be remembered again and again.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Words of Old at Christmastime: The Friendly Beasts

A 12th Century French Carol

(Author unknown)



"Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

"I," said the cow, all white and red
"I gave Him my manger for a bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head."
"I," said the cow, all white and red.

"I," said the sheep with curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the sheep with curly horn.

"I," said the dove from the rafters high,
"Cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I."
"I," said the dove from the rafters high.

"I," said the camel, yellow and black,
"Over the desert, upon my back,
I brought Him a gift in the Wise Men's pack."
"I," said the camel, yellow and black.

Thus every beast by some good spell
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
The gift he gave Emmanuel."


Words of Old at Christmastime: "Ring Out, Wild Bells to the Wild Sky" by Alfred Tennyson

"Ring Out, Wild Bells, to the Wild Sky" (excerpt) (1850)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Words of Old at Christmastime: "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore

(First published 1823)

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house.
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”