Thursday, May 05, 2011

Coffee with Cream: Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Editor's Note: With today marking the fiftieth anniversary of the first Freedom Ride, it is a good time to look back at a similar event, the first sit-in in the South at Greensboro, North Carolina. Many more soon followed.

They were four college students with a plan.
It was February 1, 1960.

They didn't need menus.
A doughnut and coffee,
with cream on the side.

At first they were treated like the hole in the doughnut--invisible.

There was a sign.

Andrea Davis Pinkney's Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (Little, Brown, 2010) tells the story of the Greensboro Four--David, Joseph, Franklin, and Ezell--whose simple act of sitting at a lunch counter began the sit-ins across the segregated South. Although they were ignored, the store closing abruptly around them, the students came back over and over, with more and more friends, dressed in their best and on their best behavior, with their textbooks to keep them busy while they waited. Their simple quiet presence spoke loud and clear.

Segregation was a bitter mix.
Those kids had a recipe, too.
A new brew called integration.


The Caldecott-winning (for Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra) pair of Andrea and Brian Pinkney tell this human story simply, in words that elementary students can understand, weaving into it the outlines of the the non-violent movement--sit-ins, the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Freedom Riders--along with the guiding words of Martin Luther King and the acts of Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, all leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This journey, which began with a single step by this group of only four young people, brave enough to bear witness against law and custom, began something big.

It was served to them exactly as they wanted--well done.

American Library Association's Booklist gave this one their coveted starred review, and School Library Journal said, "With swirling swabs of color that masterfully intertwine with sometimes thin, sometimes thick lines, Brian Pinkney cleverly centers the action and brings immediacy to the pages. Both the words and the art offer many opportunities for discussion. The book concludes with a civil rights timeline and an update on the aftermath of the lunch-counter struggle." (Starred Review).

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