“Marching to the Mountaintop” by Ann Bausum. Ages 10-14. $19.95
This is a weekend to celebrate the life of the great civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but this richly historic book looks at King’s last days and the conflict that brought him to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated April 4, 1968.
This book will give kids who know the basics of King’s life a greater understanding of the injustice that he fought so hard against and ultimately gave his life to end. As much as this book will tell you about King, it will tell you more about how black people were treated in this country 50 years ago. It may shock you; it should make you think.
King was in Tennessee to show his support for garbage truck workers who had been on strike (protesting poor conditions and pay by refusing to go to work) for eight weeks. All of the more than 1,100 workers were black men who worked six days a week moving 2,500 tons of trash a day. They got one 15-minute break each day and didn’t always have access to a bathroom. Because they were paid so little, many had to work a second job to help their families.
The day before he died, King addressed these workers in a now-famous speech in which he told them, “I’ve been to the mountaintop. . . . I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
As you think today about the power of King’s dream, this book will help you realize that dreams become reality not just because of the big thoughts of one man but also because of the hard work of many people.