Jenny's 2010 Picks
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
by Andrea Davis Pinkney , illus. by Brian Pinkney
What began as a silent statement by four African-American college students who sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., on February 1, 1960, blossomed into a resounding protest—a “sit-in” that spread to four other states across the South. A text as spare as poetry circles back to a refrain as simple and clear as the four friends’ request: “They didn’t need menus. Their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee with cream on the side.” No one will take their order because of the color of their skin. David, Joseph, Franklin and Ezell wait, dressed in jackets and button-down shirts; two wear ties. They sit silently while everyone else gets served. An African-American waitress keeps her back to the four young men as she serves a half-dozen white people at the other end of the drugstore counter. A policeman comes in, holding a billy club, but lets them be (“No crime in sitting. No harm in being quiet. No danger in looking hungry”). So the “Woolworth’s man” closes the store, and the four go home to dinner, “where they are served first.” As the author describes other students, both black and white, joining the sit-ins across the South, the artist extends the lunch counter across an entire spread. Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a timeline of milestones in the civil rights movement, and an author’s note clearly demonstrate for young readers the injustice that prompted the sit-ins and their context within the civil rights movement. It may be difficult for your youngsters to imagine that there was a time when African-American young people were treated with such disregard. On this 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, this book is a powerful and eloquent reminder of the role of young people as the instrument of change, and the impact they can continue to have on society at large.