Local children’s books featured for Black History Month

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Youth

Our observance of Black History Month continues this week with a look at some recommended children’s books in every format – prose, non-fiction, and verse.

We were excited to learn that our very own librarian, Terry Lee Caruthers, just won the Feathered Quill Medal for best early reader for her book The Big Day (illustrated by Robert Casilla). She tells a fictionalized account of the true story of Agnes Sadler who was first Black woman to vote in Knoxville. “Big Mama” cast the historic vote on Sept. 6, 1919 – more than half a century after Black men got the right to vote. The story centers on Big Mama and her granddaughter, Tansy, as they prepare for her very first vote. Caruthers mixes in historic facts and artifacts about the Suffrage movement for Black people in Knoxville and in Tennessee (see Knox TN Today’s story about Caruthers here).

Staying close to home, This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story of School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy tells a firsthand account of the desegregation of Clinton High School. Jo Anne Boyce was one of the Clinton 12, the group of young African American students who first integrated Clinton High School. Written in verse, Boyce recounts her experiences on the vanguard of the Brown v. Board of Education decision to end the “separate but equal” laws. Her voice is strong and poetic, giving us a sense of their poignant, courageous battle for school equality.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library. She writes a Wednesday feature for KnoxTNToday.com.

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