Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Civil Rights Activists and Author at BPL

book cover
Nationally known children’s author Cynthia Levinson will speak and sign copies of her new book We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March (Peachtree Publishers, 2012) at the Central Library, Thursday, February 23, at 6:30 p.m. In her book, written for young readers age ten and up, Levinson tells the story of four young civil rights activists who took part in the Birmingham demonstrations. Three of those activists, James W. Stewart (age 15 in 1963), Arnetta Streeter (age 16 in 1962), and Washington Booker III (age 14 in 1963), will join the author to share their memories.

Cynthia Levinson joins a long list of hundreds of authors who have researched books in the collections of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Archives. These authors spend hours, months, or even years working closely with Archives staff. Reflecting on her research, Levinson says, “The book would not have been so comprehensive or revealing without the expertise of the library staff. In addition to providing excellent photographs from the library's collection and background information on ‘Bull’ Connor, the Archives team led me to resources providing answers on confounding but essential issues. Dr. King's mission was to ‘fill the jails.’ But, what did that mean? Nowhere could I find data on the number of jail cells in Birmingham in 1963. The BPL collection included a report from the American Civil Liberties Union that pinpointed the figure. That, combined with arrest records available from other sources, dramatically conveyed the inability of adults to ‘fill the jails’ in April 1963 and the need to turn to children."

Critics are raving about We’ve Got a Job. This past Sunday, the New York Times Book Review said, “This extensively researched account of the Birmingham Children’s March is enriched by Levinson’s in-depth interviews with dozens of its students and by its intimate focus on four of those children. Black and white photos and excerpts from documents of the time round out this riveting, significant work of nonfiction.” The Kirkus Review describes We’ve Got a Job as “A moving account of young people rising at a pivotal historical moment” and School Library Journal calls it “Amazing.”

Copies of We’ve Got a Job will be available for purchase and signing ($15.00). The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information contact Jim Baggett, jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3631.

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