March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine

illus. by Frank Morrison. 240p. photos. HMH. Jan. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781328882127.
Gr 6 Up—Now in her seventies, Beals recalls growing up in Little Rock, AR, before she became one of the Little Rock Nine, an experience she penned earlier in Warriors Don't Cry. In this latest, Beals describes how as early as age three, she questioned the fear and constant oppression of black people by whites and the U.S. legal system. "I sensed from the very first moment of consciousness that I was living in a place where I was not welcome." Beals remembers such indignities as being locked for hours in a pantry by her grandmother's white employer, and being besieged by angry police while using a department store bathroom for whites as her grandmother begged forgiveness. She also details a horrifying episode when Ku Klux Klan members barged into her church service, barricaded the doors, and lynched a congregant from the church rafters. As a preteen, Beals narrowly escaped being raped by Klan men who found her alone alongside the road and drove her to a gathering in the woods. These horrendous experiences, contrasted with the love and support of her family and community, shaped Beals's determination to volunteer for the integration program that would cement her legacy as a beacon of civil rights. An epilog provides a synopsis of the Little Rock Nine, and black-and-white childhood photos and illustrations by Morrison appear throughout.
VERDICT Beal's recollection of white oppression and her rise above it will haunt readers. A must-read for teens.

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