Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: March With Me by Rosalie Turner

“March With Me” transported me back in time where I felt I was in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Author Rosalie Turner crafted two brilliant characters. Telling the story through the eyes of Martha Ann (a white girl) and Letitia (a black girl) makes the story so real you feel as if you are personally experiencing the Civil Rights movement. The two girls meet briefly at Martha Ann's sweet sixteen party where Letitia grudgingly helps her mom who is employed by Martha Ann's mother.

The telling of the electricity reverberating throughout the black community when Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy visit and speak gave me goose bumps.

We see the fear of the black grown-ups as the Civil Rights movement grew. They were realistic and wanted no part of the protests or marches. They understood the whites would retaliate. We see them also working hard to watch over keep their children as they keep them in their neighborhood. They want them safe, and safety requires isolation from the whites.

The local radio disc jockeys, their use of the code words like picnic and party, as well as message songs, enlightened my understanding of how the movement's communication with the black youth.

We encounter the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Bull Connor and the Birmingham Police and their use of fire hoses on Letitia and her older brother Sam. We experience Sam's arrest. He spends 12 days in jail.

The importance and influence of church and faith in the black community rings throughout the story. I obtained an amazing look at what it was like to grow up as a middle-class black family in the 1960s.

The tragedy of the 16th Street Baptist Church being bombed and four innocent young black girls dying drives home the ignorance, anger, rage, and misunderstanding as well as stupid actions of some during this pivotal time in US History.

Other events from the Civil Rights era fill the pages as we read of the march from Selma to Montgomery, the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the assassination of Dr. King and the disproportional number of black men fighting in Vietnam.

Ironically, Martha Ann and Letitia become teachers. Martha Ann gets her education at the University of Alabama. Letitia takes her training locally at Miles College. Both end up teaching in the same high school.

Rosaline Turner is one of the best storytellers writing. This book is must reading. Do yourself a favor and order it online now. It should be incorporated in the curriculum of public and private schools and used as a tool to teach about those historic days of fifty years ago.

On July 7, 2014 "March With Me" received the 2013 IndieFab Award as Winner for Best Historical Fiction Book.
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