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Researchers, writers, readers, and anyone interested in the history of the Civil Rights Movement will want to pick up a copy of the newly published novel March with Me by Birminghamian Rosalie Turner. Turner is receiving critical praise for this coming-of-age story portraying two young women—one black and one white—who experience segregation in Birmingham from different perspectives. The Birmingham Public Library will host Rosalie Turner on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place in downtown. Turner will speak about her wish for racial reconciliation and her hope that this novel will continue this important discussion. The program is free and open to the public. Copies of the novel will be available for purchase.
March with Me’s climax centers around the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement’s pivotal Children’s March, when hundreds of school students marched in downtown Birmingham in May of 1963 to protest Jim Crow laws. Many students were arrested. It’s during this event when the lives of Turner’s two fictional young women, Letitia and Martha Ann, become entwined.
Turner did much of her research at the Birmingham Public Library—mainly in the Archives Department, which holds the largest collection in the world of documents and photographs related to the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. Turner’s research at BPL and at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute laid the groundwork for a fictional story based on actual historical events. Turner also relied on oral histories of black and white Birminghamians who remembered life before and during the Civil Rights Movement.
The novel has received praise from several noteworthy individuals. Alma Powell (wife of Colin Powell and daughter of R.C. Johnson, former Principal of Birmingham’s Parker High School) called the book “a realistic, authentic, and compelling narrative of a crucial period in our nation’s history [about] brave young people who changed the world.” Former Mississippi Governor William Winter, who founded the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, said that this book makes “a significant contribution to the cause of racial reconciliation in our country . . . It will give everyone who reads it a more enlightened perspective on race relations in America.”