We've Got A Job

The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

Levinson, Cynthia

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
We've Got A Job
Discusses the events of the 4,000 African American students who marched to jail to secure their freedom in May 1963.

Publisher: Atlanta, Ga. : Peachtree Publishers, 2012
ISBN: 9781561456277
Branch Call Number: J 323.11 L
Characteristics: 176 p. : ill., map, ports. ; 25 x 24 cm.


From Library Staff

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award 2013 Finalist

Would you go to jail to fight for your rights? These kids did!

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When 9-year-old Audrey got up that May morning, she told her parents she wanted to go church to be arrested and go to jail—and her parents thought this was a great idea. She was the youngest of the 3 to 4,000 black children trying to end segregation in the city nicknamed “Bombingham”. Photoessay.

Apr 30, 2013
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

""I want to go to jail," Audrey had told her mother.

Since Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks thought that was a good idea, they helped her get ready. Her father had even bought her a new game she'd been eyeing. Audrey imagined that it would entertain her if she got bored during her week on a cell block.

That morning, her mother took her to Center Street Elementary so she could tell her third-grade teacher why she'd be absent. Mrs. Wills cried. Audrey knew she was proud of her.

She also hugged all four grandparents goodbye.

One of her grandmothers assured her, "You'll be fine."

Then Audrey's parents drove her to the church to get arrested."


That setup in the prologue of We've Got a Job hooked me most effectively--as I imagine it would even more effectively hook young readers closer to Audrey's age--then the book went back in time and very suspensefully built to the protest marches that led to Audrey's arrest.

If I learned in school about the specifics of the 1963 Civil Rights protests in Birmingham, particularly the fact that the bulk of those marching and getting arrested were children, I'd forgotten it before I read this book. And I'd certainly never learned about the complexities of the situation, the day-to-day drama as it developed. For nearly a month, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other movement leaders were failing in their efforts to overcrowd the jails so they might force the hand of white city leaders, and were about to lose all credibility. The community was divided about whether this was the best course of action and adults were too scared of losing their jobs and being unable to support their families. Then the children decided they would do what the adults couldn't or wouldn't, and the movement took off and became central to national change, even if doing so meant they would get sprayed down streets by high pressure water hoses and attacked by dogs to outrage people on the evening news.

I knew of some of these events as abstract ideas; now that I've read this engaging, fascinating book, I know about them through the eyes and emotions of the participants. Levinson follows four children of different ages and backgrounds over the course of the story, letting the drama and tension build as they experienced things. It makes for highly readable, compelling history that I gladly recommend to all readers.

Dec 17, 2012
  • CRRL_AngelaCritics rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a fabulous book. The larger story of the march is told through the experiences of 4 of the young participants, giving it a very personal quality. I learned a lot from this book. I didn’t even know about children’s active participation in the Civil Rights struggle, let alone how pivotal this set of protests was to the movement’s success. Highly recommended.


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Levinson, Cynthia
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