Cover image for Because they marched : the people's campaign for voting rights that changed America
Because they marched : the people's campaign for voting rights that changed America
First edition.
Physical Description:
83 pages : illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm
The day the teachers marched -- "White folks business" -- Selma's students lead the way -- "March, dammit!" -- Bloody Sunday -- Turnabout Tuesday -- A good day to be alive -- Because they marched.
Reading Level:
1160 L Lexile
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Newbery Medalist Freedman presents a riveting account of this pivotal event in the history of civil rights.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 323.1196 FRE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 FRE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 FRE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 FRE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 FRE 1 1

On Order



For the 50th anniversary of the 1965 march for voting right from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Newberry Medalist Russell Freedman has written a riveting account of this pivotal event in the history of civil rights. Illustrated with more than forty photographs, this is an essential chronicle of events every American should know.

Author Notes

Russell Freedman was born in San Francisco, California on October 11, 1929. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951. After college, he served in the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War. After his military service, he became a reporter and editor with the Associated Press. In 1956, he took a position at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in New York, where he did publicity writing for television. In 1965, he became a full-time writer.

His first book, Teenagers Who Made History, was published in 1961. He went on to publish more than 60 nonfiction titles for young readers including Immigrant Kids, Cowboys of the Old West, Indian Chiefs, Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life, Confucius: The Golden Rule, Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America, Vietnam: A History of the War, and The Sinking of the Vasa. He received the Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography and three Newbery Honors for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, and The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. He also received the Regina Medal, the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, the Sibert Medal, a Sibert Honor, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the National Humanities Medal. He died on March 16, 2018 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. Commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Freedman (The Boston Tea Party) delivers a thorough account of the context and events leading up to and through this momentous protest. The book's eight chapters pull readers into the decades-long struggle via clear, concise storytelling and myriad quotes from participants, many of them young at the time. "Algebra gave way to activism," writes Freedman. "This explosion of teenage activism alarmed some parents and took the white authorities by surprise." The momentum-building narrative and often-graphic b&w photos captivate as they recount demonstrations big and small: from sit-ins and "wade-ins" (for desegregated beaches) to the well-known Selma schoolteachers' march and "Bloody Sunday" at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Freedman details day-by-day the culminating several-thousand-strong march to Montgomery, which spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Current threats to the act are described in an epilogue. A timeline, select bibliography, source notes, and index round out this well-researched story that honors the many who stood up and fought against inequities at the ballot box. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

With characteristically clear prose sprinkled liberally with primary source quotes and carefully selected photographs, Freedman documents the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march that featured the horrific Bloody Sunday confrontation between the marchers and the Alabama state troopers. Captured on television footage by all the major networks, these events convinced the nation--and Congress--that something finally had to be done. That something turned out to be the Voting Rights Act of 1965, "the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement." Freedman's introduction is particularly effective because it focuses on the teachers' march to the courthouse to register as a major trigger for the movement: "For the first time, a recognized professional group from Selma's black community had carried out an organized protest." If the book is not quite as visually striking as its notable predecessor, Elizabeth Partridge's Marching for Freedom (rev. 11/09), nor as invested in the youth participation, its later publication date allows the book to touch on the controversial 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. A timeline, source notes, selected bibliography, and an index are appended. jonathan hunt (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Like Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2006), in which Freedman detailed events from 1955, his latest historical narrative transports readers to Alabama to experience another significant turning point in the civil rights movement. The story opens in January 1965, when 105 black teachers attempted to register to vote but were met with violence on the courthouse steps in Selma, Alabama. Brutal attacks by segregationists increased during the weeks to come. Soon, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and demonstrators joined Selma's voting-rights campaign, which culminated in a peaceful, triumphant protest march to Montgomery in March and, in August, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The major role played by Selma's courageous teenagers and children makes this a particularly sympathetic and significant story for young Americans. Freedman writes with great immediacy, weaving pertinent first-person accounts into a beautifully written narrative that is moving as well as informative. Tied closely to the text, the many well-chosen black-and-white photos record significant events, capture dramatic moments, and show individuals who took part in these historic events. With a timeless narrative and a timely epilogue, this handsome volume offers a vivid account of a pivotal moment in American history.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-With the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 approaching, this book captures a significant struggle in history, focusing on the two years leading up to President Lyndon Johnson signing the act into law. Freedman gives readers the necessary context they need to understand the Civil Rights Movement and the importance of Selma, Alabama. Through short chapters, skilled, fluid writing, powerful photographs, and firsthand accounts of the clash between black and white Americans, Freedman has crafted an account of a crucial time in history; readers will easily be able to imagine that a grandfather or great-grandfather is telling this story. This well-organized work is ideal for research projects. Like Ann Bausum's Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement (National Geographic, 2013), this is a strong, engaging look at the subject. A first choice for libraries looking for titles on the Civil Rights Movement.-Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

One of the most decorated nonfiction writers in the field brings his style to a well-told story of the struggle for voting rights in the American South. Fifty years ago, as the civil rights movement took hold, the attempts to ensure African-American access to the vote increasingly took center stage. A newly passed Civil Rights Act did not guarantee voting rights, so activists in the South continued to press for them at both the state and federal levels. The barriers to votingpoll taxes, literacy tests, limits on registrationwere difficult to overcome. Physical abuse and financial intimidation also kept people from the polls. Activist churches were subject to firebombs and burning. Selma, Alabama, became a flashpoint. As Freedman begins his narrative, student activism had propelled teachers and other middle-class blacks to get involved. The death of an unarmed demonstrator drove organizers to plan a march from Selma to the state's capital, Montgomeryan attempt that resulted in "Bloody Sunday," one of the single most violent moments of the movement, and served to prod action on the Voting Rights Act in Congress. Freedman's meticulous research and elegant prose brings freshness to a story that has been told many times. Familiar figures populate the account, but they are joined by many lesser-known figures as well. Richly illustrated, this deserves a place alongside other important depictions of this story. (timeline, bibliography, photo credits, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.