LIBERTY’S CIVIL RIGHTS ROAD TRIP
By: Michael W. Waters
Illustrated by: Nicole Tadgell
Published: October 12, 2021
Publisher: Flyaway Books
After the passing of two civil rights leaders from the 1960s, author Michael W. Waters was inspired to write this book. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he led a civil rights trip for faith leaders from Dallas. His family also went along and this story is based on their trip and the history his daughter and her friend experienced.
Liberty and her friend, Abdullah, board a bus with a group of passengers and her family to travel to places important in the civil rights movement. Stops on their trip include Jackson and Glendora, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama. The story is told through the eyes of Liberty as she experiences civil rights history for the first time.
Liberty’s child-like excitement level is high as they start off on their bus trip. Like any child on a road trip, she asks, “Are we there yet?”. When she learns of children being hurt, many near her age, she begins to understand the scope of what happened to families and children just like her.
Included in the story are illustrations of the real-life people who stood up for civil rights or who were killed because of their courage. The pages also include illustrations of the places visited on the bus trip. I felt incredibly ignorant while reading this story because I wasn’t aware that you could visit the motel where Dr. King was killed. Several of the other stops on the tour are on my list of places to visit.
The characters in the story are based on the real people who took the bus trip with Liberty and her family and are from all kinds of nationalities, religions, and backgrounds. Being together and learning from each other’s experiences and history helps bring everyone together. As they all held hands and crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, Liberty’s dad said, “This is what American looks like.” Liberty said, “Maybe this is what love looks like too!”
This book would be a great addition to a school or homeschool curriculum when teaching civil rights. The back of the book includes brief notes about the places Liberty visited and a note from the author. For more about this trip and the civil rights movement, visit www.civilrightstrail.com.
Check out the book trailer:
Michael W. Waters is an award-winning author, activist, professor, and pastor. For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World, illustrated by Keisha Morris, won the 2020 Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice and was named a Must-Read Book about Race by Essence. A sought-after speaker, he is a frequent commentator for major media outlets and has been honored for his work in peace and justice. Michael W. Waters lives in Dallas, Texas. For more information, check out his website, HERE.
Nicole Tadgell is the acclaimed illustrator of more than thirty picture books, a speaker and workshop leader, and an advocate for diversity in children’s literature. Her many honors include the Children’s Africana Book Award, the Américas Award, and numerous best-books lists. She lives in Virginia. For more information, check out her website, HERE.