Cover image for This promise of change : one girl's story in the fight for school equality / Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy.
Title:
This promise of change : one girl's story in the fight for school equality / Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy.
ISBN:
9781681198521
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
310 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Abstract:
"In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students--found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process"-- Provided by publisher.
Audience/Reading Level:
Interest age level: 10-12.

Interest grade level: 4-6.
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379.2630976873 BOY Book Junior Collection
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Summary

Summary

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students---found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.


Author Notes

Debbie Levy is the author of many books, including I Dissent; The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells; and Imperfect Spiral. She lives in the Chesapeake Bay area.


Jo Ann Allen Boyce was one of twelve students to desegragate Clinton High School in 1956. She has worked as a professional singer and a nurse. She lives in Los Angeles.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Boyce, one of 12 black students who integrated Clinton, Tennessee's public high school in August 1956, following racial desegregation, relays the story of that harrowing experience in verse. Levy (I Dissent) notes that poetry is a particularly appropriate choice, given the "musicality" of her coauthor's voice, which is also insightful, immediate, and passionate. Recognizing the duplicity of the courtordered integration, Boyce writes: "We're in, yes./ But it's more complicated than that./ Or, looked at another way-it's simpler./ ...You can't stay after school,/ when the fun stuff is whitesonly./ Glee club, football, cheerleading?/ No, no, and no./ Simple. That's the complication." Boyce poignantly describes the cruelty of white students, as "the little shoves" become "the shove that almost knocks Gail Ann out the window... From the little slights/ come the larger evils,/ and they feel/ monstrous." While she acknowledges that it's difficult "to change a promise of change/ into real change," Boyce never loses hope in the belief that racial equality is attainable and that she can help make it happen. Though her parents (fearing for their safety) moved the family to California in December 1956, and Boyce left Clinton, readers will appreciate that she did make a difference by standing up for her beliefs with resolve and persistence, attributes that shine through in this lyrical yet hardhitting account of a pivotal chapter in the history of desegregation. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In 1956 in the small town of Clinton, Tennessee, twelve African American students integrated the all-white high school. Jo Ann Allen Boyce, one of the Clinton 12, narrates this first-person account. She lives with her family up on the Hill, a part of the city that was settled by formerly enslaved people after the Civil War. Jo Ann and her family are active in their church, and her knowledge of religious songs and biblical history is threaded throughout the memoir. The book consists of free-verse passages that often include rhyme and employ various forms such as pantoum and villanelle. (One haiku titled And Then There Are the Thumbtacks reads: Scattered on our chairs / A prank straight out of cartoons / They think we dont look?) Boyces character evolves throughout the book. Though not naive about racism early on, she later fully experiences the weight of white supremacy. Even her white neighbors on the Hill turn on her family members once they are perceived as stepping out of their place. Newspaper headlines and clips, excerpts from the Constitution, and examples of artifacts such as signs held by protesters (We Wont Go to School with Negroes) are interspersed throughout. This fine addition to texts about the integration of public schools during the civil rights era in the United States concludes with an epilogue, biographical information about the Clinton 12, a scrapbook of photographs, source notes, and a timeline. jonda c. mcnair January/February 2019 p 111(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.