Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

Claudette Colvin & Mary Clark

Claudette Colvin & Mary Clark

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin grew up in Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Jim Crow rules dominated her life. Jim Crow rules were designed to keep black people and white people separated. These are the rules that said black people could not eat in certain restaurants or sit in certain seats on a city bus. When Claudette was 15 years old she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, so she was arrested. You’re probably thinking, no, that was Rosa Parks. It’s true, Rosa Parks did the same thing, but Claudette did it too! A lawsuit was filed on behalf of several people, including Claudette and Rosa, to end bus segration, and eventually, they won. Rosa is more well known, but Claudette was right there too, and she was just a kid! Reading her story helps you understand that it took lots of people, young and old, to change the Jim Crow rules. A lot of people were brave enough to stand up and say, “no more!”

This book includes interviews with Claudette herself, so you get the story straight from her. She talks about what it felt like to live with Jim Crow; to constantly be told, “you can’t”. When you hear a real person talking about it, it seems much more real than reading a plain description. Claudette was there and she can speak for herself. If you like reading about Claudette, try Marching For Freedom. That one tells the story of kids who marched in Selma, Alabama to help win black people the right to vote. It’s really good too and includes interviews with people who were kids back then and were actually there.

If you like Claudette’s story you might like finding out about a strong Hoosier woman who fought for her rights. When Indiana became a state in 1816, the constitution stated, “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude.” In early 1816, Mary Bateman Clark, a slave in Kentucky, was sold and brought to Knox County, Indiana, as an “indentured servant.”

In 1821 Clark filed suit for her freedom. The Knox County Circuit Court ruled against Clark’s petition to end her indentured servitude. Clark appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled that Clark’s status was clearly not voluntary. The court awarded Clark her freedom and in doing so set a precedent for freedom for other indentured blacks held in Indiana.

mary-clark-marker

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Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road tells the story of our country from the time of slavery, through the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction.

The Emancipation Proclamation was the executive order by Abraham Lincoln made on January 1, 1863 that freed the slaves in all states and territories.

Reconstruction is the time after the Civil War when the country had to rebuild and re-unite after fighting for so long between the North and the South.

Sometimes we can think too easily about history, like, once a slave escaped on the Underground Railroad and made it to the North, their worries were over. Not true. For a long time slave catchers could cross into the North and drag a person back into slavery. It’s easy to think also that after the Emancipation Proclamation slaves were all free and and their life was happy and easy, but that isn’t how it really worked. For one thing,  if a person became free, where would that person live? How would they eat? Do you think all people would be kind and helpful to them? Would there be some people who were angry that the slaves were free?

It’s a complicated story but very interesting. What did some freed slaves decide to do? Did they stay and work for their former owner for pay? Did the move North? Did they try to find family members who had been sold away from them? How did they find a place to live and a way to make a living? Did they go to school? Where? Author: Linda Osborne

Freed slaved coming to Indiana might have decided to live in Lyles Station or at the Huggart Settlement.

Lyles Station, near Princeton, Indiana
Brothers Joshua and Sanford Lyles, freed slaves from Tennessee, established Lyles Station in the 1850s. Joshua returned to Tennessee after the Civil War to recruit family and friends to join him in Indiana. He also donated sixty acres of his land to the Airline Railroad so there could be a railroad station in the town. The town eventually included, a post office, the railroad station, fifty-five homes, an elementary school, two churches, two general stores, and a lumber mill.

 

Huggart Settlement, near South Bend, Indiana
huggart-settlementThe Huggart Settlement was established by Samuel Huggart, a free black man from Ohio. Both white and black families settled here and participated in an integrated community life. They farmed, went to church & went to school together. The families were members of a Quaker congregation called the Olive Branch Church, which was opposed to slavery. The Huggart Settlement is an example of a community where people of different backgrounds and races found common ground at a time when segregation prevailed in many other places.

The settlement began to decline following the 1913 flood of the Patoka and Wabash rivers. While only a few houses remain in the community of Lyles Station, nearly half of the current residents are descendents of the original black settlers, making Lyles Station the last remaining black settlement in Indiana.

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Amazing Olympic Athlete Wilma Rudolph

Amazing Olympic Athlete Wilma Rudolph

Amazing Olympic Athlete Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph had polio when she was six years old. Polio is a virus that can cause paralysis. Now we have a vaccine for polio but that wasn’t invented yet when Wilma was little. The polio did not paralyze Wilma, but it did leave one leg crooked and Wilma had to wear a brace to help her walk.

When Wilma was nine she took the brace off and when she was eleven she started to play sports in school. Eventually, Wilma won gold medals at the Olympics as a runner. For the next two weeks you can watch the stories of Olympic athletes at the 2010 Vancourver Winter Olympic games. Lots of them will have inspirational stories too. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to compete at the Olympic Level.

Take a look at this great video of Wilma talking about her own life and her experiences at the Olympics.

oscar-robertson

Have you ever heard of Indiana’s own Olympian Oscar Robertson? In 1955 Oscar when to Crispus Attucks High School. Oscar’s team won the Indiana State Championship, becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title. Robertson led Crispus Attucks to another championship in 1956. Oscar was so good he played in College and went on to win a gold medal with the US Basketball team at the 1960 Olympic Games.

If you are following the Vancouver Winter Olympics this month – try out some of these sites:

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Obama the Historic Journey

Obama the Historic Journey

Obama the Historic Journey

If you want to read a biography of President Obama, this is the one. It tells his story from the time he was born up to inauguration day. The book includes comments from people close to him like his mother, his grandmother and his sister as well as people he has worked with or inspired.

The book includes questions he has been asked by the American people, by other politicians and by kids.

Question from a first grader: “Shouldn’t you be vice president first?”

You can even find out little things, like the fact that he is left handed and likes chili and basketball. As a student basketball player he earned the nickname “Barry O’Bomber” because of his jump shot. Barry was his nickname back then – see all of the interesting things you can find out?!

Every page has several vibrant photos. I enjoyed reading this as the story of a person’s life. I also liked that the author included a lot of information about the election and what the issues were that were debated during the election. This book is the story of a life…but also gives a look at the process of getting elected.

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Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Bake You a Pie: a Story about Edna Lewis

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Bake You a Pie: a Story about Edna Lewis

Bring Me Some Apples

Edna Lewis cooks simple and she cooks Southern. Edna grew up in Virginia and this book tells the story of how she ended up a chef in New York City. When she was a little girl her family ate what they could grow and they ate what was ripe when it was ripe or they canned it to save for later. The dishes served at her restaurant depended on the season because Edna only used fresh ingredients in her recipes. If it wasn’t just picked, she didn’t use it.

An interesting look at a person who followed her passion into a career and life she enjoyed.

  • Look Inside Bring Me Some Apples
  • Listen to NPR Audio: Memories of Southern Chef Edna Lewis
  • Watch the Documentary Fried Chicken & Sweet Potato Pie
If you like learning about Edna Lewis try some of these books:
Heritage Cookbook Addy's Cookbook George Crum and the Saratoga Chips Kwanzaa Karamu
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