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As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson

As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom is written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colon.  I found this title on a list of books recommended to teach children about the civil rights movement.  The book was listed on Amazon's 2010 12 Best Children's Books of the Decade and has received the Sydney Taylor Award Gold Medal, Skipping Stones Multicultural Book Award, Museum of Tolerance Once Upon A World Silver Medal, and National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Medal as well as other honors.

As Good As Anybody tells the parallel stories of the discrimination, oppression, and hardship that King and Heschel endured growing up an African-American in the American South ruled by Jim Crowe and a Jew growing up in pre-World War II Poland respectively.  Michelson shows how both men's experiences as members of historically oppressed groups lead them to become men who worked together to march for peace and equality for all.  The story also depicts the commonalities between the oppression of the Jews in Nazi ruled Europe prior to and during the war and the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. two decades later.  Heschel, a white man who both experienced discrimination and lost family members in the Holocaust, was a man who stood up for those less fortunate and saw the righteousness of standing with King and marching for equal rights.

Michelson writes a thoughtful, thought provoking, and eye opening account of the friendship between Heschel and King.  It's a story that is perhaps not very well known, but that is a worthwhile  lesson for children in the value of standing beside those who are marginalized and oppressed even when one is not directly, adversely affected by that oppression.  This book is not available in county, so if you're interested in reading it, please ask your librarian to request it for you through ILL, which is how I obtained it to read.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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