The First Step

How One Girl Put Segregation
on Trial

Bloomsbury Children's Books

(published 1.5.2016) 32 pages 

A True Tale
with A Cherry On Top 

A uthor: Susan E. Goodman
      and Illustrator:  E. B Lewis

C haracter: Sarah Roberts

 verview from the jacket flap: 

    "In 1847, a young African American girl named Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston. Then one day she was told she could never come back. She didn't belong. The Otis School was for white children only.
     Sarah deserved an equal education, and the Roberts family fought for change. They made history.
     Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. It was the first time an African American lawyer argued in a supreme court.
     These first steps set in motion changes that ultimately led to equality under the law in the United States. Sarah's cause was won when people - black and white - stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change! ... 
     Every big change starts with a first step.
T antalizing taste: 
    "On December 4, 1849, a heavy snow blanketed the city. Even a ferocious blizzard wouldn't have stopped people from flooding into the courthouse. So many of them were African American - dockworkers and washerwomen, barbers and blacksmiths - giving up a day's pay to be there. Some were lucky enough to get a seat. Others were willing to stand, for hours if need be.
     Sarah's story was their story too."

and something more: I was impressed by the detailed background research and careful thinking Susan E. Goodman shared in the Author's Note. As she explained, "Nonfiction authors feel a special responsibility when writing about other people... telling the truth means finding the facts and  the emotional truths. Sarah's story was hard because we know a lot about her trial but very little about her as a person...
     What is this story about? And why did I want to write it? Was it to show injustice of a child walking past five schools she couldn't enter...Or to show that fighting for a cause can be a victory even if you lose? Or that the push to integrate schools started long before the 1950s? For me, it includes all these ideas, and especially... If you feel something is wrong, speak up. And keep trying. Change happens when people of all kinds find a way to come together."    


Linda B said...

I enjoyed this book very much, and loved hearing about the very early rule in Boston about integration. Glad to see your review, too! And, I agree about speaking up, working toward change. It's important now more than ever.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Yes, I couldn't agree with you more, Linda, about working toward positive change.

Thank you for stopping by!

Cheriee Weichel said...

I have really enjoyed reading all the #IMWAYR posts this week. LIke yours, they have been a reminder of what has been achieved so far, and provided hope for the future. I've added this one to my list.

Annette said...

I loved the nuance of this story--showing that progress isn't necessarily steadily in one direction. Thanks for the reminder of a story worth thinking about!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Yes Cheriee, I agree with you that literature can and does provide hope!
Thanks for stopping by!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

I agree, Annette, about the concept that progess can be slow and feel like steps backward, but if efforts are continued change can happen.
Thanks for stopping by!