March 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

The March Goes On | Touch and Go

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The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 2013 saw the release of a number of new resources on that historic day and the Civil Rights Movement. Two of those resources now have iPad iterations. Both include text, images, and videos that are essential viewing for students studying the era. Add them to your collection today. Both are free. 

Screen from

Screen from ‘His Dream, Our Stories’ (Comcast NBCUniversal)

Those seeking information on the 1963 March on Washington will find a wealth of material on that event—and others that led up to it—in Terry Golway’s powerful His Dream, Our Stories: the Legacy of the March On Washington (MetroDigi, Comcast NBCUniversal, Free, via the iBook app; Gr 6 Up). Outstanding writing and more than 20 compelling videos tell the story of the gathering on the Washington Mall that culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Among the many who braved the overwhelming crowds (estimated between 200,000 and 300,000) and record-breaking heat to attend—and/or share their stories here—were Jesse Jackson, Mamie Chalmers, Peter Yarrow, and Andrew Young. In addition to reminiscences of that day, the app provides context for each vignette with details on the Greensboro sit-ins, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Detroit Walk to Freedom, and the Atlanta Student Movement.

Mamie Chalmers remembers hearing Dr. King speak at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. She talks about her arrest (and five days in jail) after sitting down for sandwiches where African Americans weren’t being served, and her participation in a demonstration where she was sprayed with water from a high-pressure hose that resulted in permanent hearing loss in one ear. Jesse Jackson recounts his arrest in Greensboro, NC, Dr. King’s “broken promise” message, his memories of the civil rights leader’s death, and talks about the work that still needs to be accomplished.

The numerous visuals include black-and-white archival photos of individuals, events, and documents, often several to a screen. Originally written to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this updated e-version includes fascinating bonus material including interviews with event organizers Roy Wilkins and Dr. King just days prior to the march. There’s also an interactive component that allows readers to upload and save their own stories and photos for personal use and/or sharing on social media. Readers can also submit a story for possible inclusion in a future edition.

Viewers will come away with a better understanding of the era and be able to grasp the enormity of the struggle for freedom as they listen to the voices of those who were part of the movement. An excellent springboard for further study or classroom discussion.—Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library

Screen from

Screen from ‘Spies of Mississippi’ (Jeff Zeff Design)

Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary (Joe Zeff Design, Free; Gr 7 Up) is an amazing collaboration between the written word and visual arts. The app, based on the book by Rick Bowers (National Geographic, 2010; also an iBook) and Dawn Porter’s documentary film of the same title (Trilogy Films, 2014 ), takes viewers inside the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission’s (MSSC) clandestine, “state-funded” campaign to maintain racial segregation in the state during the 1950s and ’60s. As noted in the foreword of Bowers’s book, the history of the MSSC is a story that involves “spies and counterspies, agents and double agents, informants and infiltrators…[along with] dedicated civil rights workers and fearless student activists, truth-telling journalists and justice-seeking lawyers who dared to challenge the status quo.” This will be a shocking history lesson to most, and the app combines text; archival photos; police reports and other documents (some made public as recently as 1998); and film clips (introduced with music), to tell the story.

The MSSC actively sought to thwart the work of civil rights activists before, during, and after the 1964 Freedom Summer, and the book, film, and app draw connections between it and the activities of the white supremacist organizations, including the deaths of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Interactive biographies of individuals that make appearances in Porter’s film are provided as well as three film segments and a timeline containing numerous resources.


Screen from ‘Spies of Mississippi’ (Jeff Zeff Design)

Teachers will appreciate the extensive Common Core aligned lessons plans with weblinks and discussion questions for grades 6-8 and 9-12 as well as an “all grades” resource list and suggestions for related enrichment activities. Students will be fascinated with the story and find the app’s visual elements particularly compelling. Also available are additional stories of citizens’ experiences during the era, submitted through a joint venture sponsored by the Library of Congress and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and hosted on the AARP website. Viewers can also submit their own stories. A first-rate production.—Joy Davis, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe, LA

For additional app reviews, visit the Touch and Go webpage.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.