Thursday, November 19, 2009

The 2009 National Book Award Finalist is...

This week the 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Children's Literature was announced. The title is Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice. The book was written by Phillip Hoose and published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

From the publisher:
This book reveals the true story of Ms. Colvin, who, as a fifteen-year old in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white woman, nine months before Rosa Parks took a similar stand. Ms. Colvin then went on to challenge segregation a second time, as a key plaintiff in the landmark case ofBrowder v. Gayle, which struck down the bus segregation laws in Montgomery.

Here is an except from the book:
Rebellion was on my mind that day. All during February we’d been talking about people who had taken stands. We had been studying the Constitution in Miss Nesbitt’s class. I knew I had rights. I had paid my fare the same as white passengers. I knew the rule—that you didn’t have to get up for a white person if there were no were no empty seats left on the bus—and there weren’t. But it wasn’t about that. I was thinking, Why should I have to get up just because a driver tells me to, or just because I’m black? Right then, I decided I wasn’t gonna take it anymore. I hadn’t planned it out, but my decision was built on a lifetime of nasty experiences.

After the other students got up, there were three empty seats in my row, but that white woman still wouldn’t sit down—not even across the aisle from me. That was the whole point of segregation rules—it was all symbolic—blacks had to be behind whites. If she sat down in the same row as me, it meant I was as good as her. So she had to keep standing until I moved back. The motorman yelled again, louder: “Why are you still sittin’ there?” I didn’t get up, and I didn’t answer him. It got real quiet on the bus. A white rider yelled from the front, “You got to get up!” A girl named Margaret Johnson answered from the back, “She ain’t got to do nothin’ but stay black and die.”

The white woman kept standing over my seat. The driver shouted, “Gimme that seat!” then “Get up, gal!” I stayed in my seat, and I didn’t say a word.


maureen said...

Gosh, the excerpt from 'Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice' literally sent shivers down my spine. I can see why this book is among the finalists. I have to get this book!

Marya Jansen-Gruber said...

Me too! I can't believe that I have not read it yet. Actually I need to review all the finalists. I have reviewed Charles and Emma, and I have to tell you that this book is fantastic.