Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Book Review: They Called Themselves the KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
This is not always easy to do in rural Maine. Our state has been called the "whitest" in the country; our school has less than 1% of students of African American, Asian American, or Latino American descent. Combined. (We do have a stronger showing of Native American students at about 3%.) And, for a state so far from the Mason-Dixon Line, we have an awful lot of Confederate flags on belt buckles and bumper stickers.
I am not implying that there is more racism in our school than in any other across the country. I do think that there is an extreme lack of information about other cultures. So, I purchase books like this one in hopes that students will learn. Here's what this book has to offer:
-A time line of events starting before the Civil War and leading up to the election of President Obama
-A collection of ads, articles, cartoons, drawings, and photographs depicting civil rights issues
-An easy-to-understand representation of historical events, including political movements and policies related to civil rights, voting procedures, and the formation of the KKK
-Reproductions of historical documents, like the Emancipation Proclamation
-Pictures and interview excerpts from former slaves
This book is extremely user and reader-friendly. I am not exactly sure what the reading level is, but it is probably somewhere between 8th and 10th grade. Some sections are easier to understand than others. Overall, I learned a lot about the politics and the agendas of both the American North and South during the years before and after the Civil War.
I think that this is an essential text for classrooms across our country. The information and the visuals contained in this book make it an enticing read for any up-and-coming civil rights activist. Hopefully, some of my students will be inspired to read it and then spread awareness about civil rights. Because the fight is not yet finished.