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Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

The full title of this book is Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford with illustrations by Ekua Holmes.  I'm not sure how I came across this book.  It might have been reviewed recently in BookPage, or I may have come across it on Amazon while looking at other books.  I can't remember.  It's juvenile non-fiction, and I have another book from the easy reader section that I will probably be reviewing soon too.  I'm branching out a little bit in what I'm reviewing partially because I have classes starting again soon, and I'm not sure how much time I will have to read adult fiction or non-fiction.  And also because we got a few new easy reader children's books here at the library that I really (really) loved and wanted to tell people about them.  Voice of Freedom is one of those new books that I really liked.  It's told in verse and is accompanied by some stunning illustrations.

The book is told in first person verse from Fannie Lou Hamer's perspective.  Weatherford tells Hamer's story starting with Hamer's birth as the twentieth (!!!) child born to sharecropper parents in Mississippi and following her journey to adulthood and civil rights activism.  These haunting verses tell of the tragedy, struggles, prejudice, discrimination, threats, and intimidation that characterized Hamer's life as a black woman in the South.  And yet no matter how many threats, how much intimidation, or how many physical beatings Hamer suffered, sometimes for such actions as daring to register to vote at the county courthouse (an experience and achievement that took months and years and was not without its own challenges and obstacles), she endured, and she would not be deterred from her work registering black people to vote and educating them about their rights.  Weatherford's verses paint Hamer as a woman of grace, dignity, and quiet, steadfast courage.

In addition to Hamer's story, this book also sheds light on the experiences of sharecroppers, a feudal type system that supplanted slavery in the post-civil war South, and a system that Weatherford in her verses points out was just another form of slavery by a differen name.  I cannot recommend this book enough, and I think anyone from children to adults would enjoy reading it because I think even though it is in the juvenile non-fiction section that adults would get as much out of this book as children.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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