Continuing with my reading challenge to read more award books I read Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor, which won the Robert F. Sibert honor in 2012
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. ALSC administers the award.
I knew that this award category would be a challenge for me because nonfiction is not usually what I gravitate towards when I want to read- I usually want something to shut my mind off or to escape reality NOT study reality; however, this book really got me thinking and reminded me how important this history is.
In the 1950s and early 60s, Birmingham, Alabama, became known as Bombingham. At the center of this violent time in the fight for civil rights, and standing at opposite ends, were Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene Bull Connor. From his pulpit, Shuttlesworth agitated for racial equality, while Commissioner Connor fought for the status quo. Relying on court documents, police and FBI reports, newspapers, interviews, and photographs, the author first covers each man’s life and then brings them together to show how their confrontation brought about significant change to the southern city.
How Brimner put this book together really caught my attention. It’s set up like a news paper layout or a coffee table book. Lots of pictures and captions break up the text which is sized larger, so the reading doesn’t feel too dense.
Although I am against segregation and can’t even imagine living in a world where these events actually happened, this book got me to think about the other side of things. And by the other side I mean the white side. I actually felt sorry for the shop owners in Birmingham for example. They were threatened by the Reverend and by Bull… They were just trying to follow the law and own a successful business and unfortunately segregation was part of that law.
I definitely recommend reading this book to brush up on your history and to get you thinking about what happened, what could have been, and how this country got to where it is today.