We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song

illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 32p. chron. further reading. notes. websites. Disney/Jump at the Sun. Dec. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9781423119548.
Gr 1–4—Beginning in slavery times, this "story of a song" moves through the Civil Rights Movement up to present day. As protests mounted in the mid-1940s, the song "I Will Overcome" was changed to "We Will Overcome" to reflect the protesters' working together. Folk singer Pete Seeger changed the "will" to "shall" and sang the song for Martin Luther King, Jr. In the early 1960s, the Freedom Singers traveled 50,000 miles across the country, singing "We Shall Overcome" and bringing a message of hope to all who listened. Laws were passed and things began to slowly change. President Lyndon Johnson quoted the lyrics in a televised speech. The song was heard in South Africa and then many other countries. Those struggling and working toward a better life embraced it and the message it brought. "We will live in peace, We will live in peace some day." The time line at the end of the book chronicles the life of the song, explaining it and some of the illustrations in greater detail. Extensive source notes include Internet sites where the song can be heard and suggestions for further reading. The colorful, mixed-media, collage illustrations are detailed and beautiful, giving more life to the words of this historic and inspiring anthem. The art appears on full spreads with phrases from the song in large print above or below the text. This handsome book will be highly useful for classroom and family discussions.—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY
A simple story explains how this rallying song for freedom became the watchword for the civil rights movement in the United States, and from there to countries around the world struggling with human rights issues. Lively digital and mixed-media illustrations convey a joyous mood. Although "No single day marks the birth of the song...", a timeline of highlights is included. Reading list, websites.

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