Black History Month begins in February, and my book, Little Rock Girl, was named one of the Top Ten Black History Books for Youth. Online searching tells me a number of schools and libraries are using the book for that purpose. It’s an incredible honor.
I think what makes Little Rock Girl special is its angle. There are hundreds of kid’s books on Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Little Rock Nine. Little Rock Girl is part of a series called Captured History. The books explore how a single photo changed a movement.
Little Rock Girl tells the story of Elizabeth Eckford, of course, but it’s much bigger than her horrific experience. The book shows how media coverage – including TV news, which was a baby at the time – affected public opinion, forced national leaders to confront the issue, and propelled the movement forward.
I worked in public relations for seven years, and I consider civil rights leaders as the founders of modern day public relations. Martin Luther King quickly learned this: no media coverage, no movement. Photos of demonstrations, arrests, and police brutality motivated African Americans to become activists, risking their jobs, their homes, and even their lives. The photos forced white citizens, particularly in the north, to face an issue they ignored. And political leaders could no longer pretend segregation was just a state issue.
Little Rock Girl is a nuanced look at complex issues ranging from state rights to the concept of “separate but equal” to the legal battles. I’m thrilled the editor at Capstone was supportive of probing deeper than biographies of civil rights leaders.
And I’m thrilled I was chosen to write it.