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Cover image for Freedom walkers : the story of the Montgomery bus boycott
Freedom walkers : the story of the Montgomery bus boycott
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, c2006.
Physical Description:
xi, 114 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
Map -- Montgomery, Alabama, 1955-1956 -- Introduction: Why they walked -- Jo Ann Robinson -- Claudette Colvin -- Rosa Parks -- Martin Luther King, Jr. -- Boycott heroes -- Proud to be arrested -- Walking to victory -- Children are coming on -- Chapter notes -- Selected bibliography -- Acknowledgments -- Index.
Reading Level:
1110 L Lexile
Covers the events surrounding and including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the end of segregation on buses.


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

On Order



A riveting account of the civil rights boycott that changed history by the foremost author of history for young people.

Now a classic, Freedman's book tells the dramatic stories of the heroes who stood up against segregation and Jim Crow laws in 1950s Alabama. A master of succinct historical narratives Freeman explains the contributions of and sacrifices made by Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, who refused give up their seats, to Jo Ann Robinson, who began the boycott, to Martin Luther King, Jr., whose leadership was instrumental is carrying it through, and others.

Full of eye-witness reports, iconic photographs from the era, and crucial primary sources, this work brings the narratives alive for contemporary readers. A Map, source notes, a bibliography, and other backmatter make is a valuable classroom resource. The book received five starred reviews, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award among other honors.

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 4

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) Freedman's account of this defining episode in the fight for racial equality begins in 1949 -- six years before Rosa Parks's legendary bus ride and Martin Luther King Jr.'s celebrated involvement in the cause. After a concise introduction surveying the ""not so long ago"" cultural landscape of the South (""strict laws...enforced a system of white supremacy""), Freedman sets the political and social stage leading up to the book's pivotal events, focusing on influential figures and describing indignities black people suffered under segregation. Without detracting from Parks's and King's contributions (first mentioned in chapters three and four, respectively), this book shines a spotlight on the preparedness of other leaders and on the sacrifice and courage of thousands of unsung African Americans who boycotted Montgomery's buses for 381 days -- jeopardizing their livelihoods and safety. The expertly paced text, balanced but impassioned, emphasizes the careful strategizing, organizing, and restraint from all involved that helped to ensure the boycott's success and pave the way for ending segregation. The narrative arc is compelling; well-captioned black-and-white photographs enhance the impact. Such is the immediacy of Freedman's telling that by the time Martin Luther King Jr. steps onboard and takes ""a seat in the front of the bus,"" readers will feel like cheering, as if they're witnessing the historic moment themselves. Extensive chapter notes, an excellent annotated bibliography, and an index complete this absorbing presentation. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

As Freedman points out, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a triumphant historical event, and there are numerous memoirs, articles, and scholarly works, for adults and for young readers, about the leaders and the ordinary heroes. In his signature clear prose, Freedman draws on the best of those personal stories and historical accounts to provide a dramatic overview of how the 381-day resistance to segregated buses spearheaded the civil rights movement. He brings close the experience of what it was like to be there, on the bus and on the street. With the eloquent accounts of the legendary heroes--Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and more--are the stories of other important activists, including Jo Ann Robinson (president of the Women's Political Council) and teenager Claudette Colvin, as well as the lawyers and politicians. The photo-essay design is attractive and spacious. On every spread, readers will find beautifully reproduced black-and-white photos, including famous pictures as well as a few not often seen, including a picture of a leaflet urging boycott. Suggest Diane McWhorter's A Dream of Freedom (2004) and Ellen Levin's Freedom's Children (1993) to readers who will want to find out more. Freedman provides fully documented chapter notes and an excellent bibliographic essay. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2006 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Freedman begins this outstanding history by reminding his audience that the injustices of racial segregation did not happen that long ago in the United States. Throughout the book, he gives accounts of how much coordination and sacrifice went into conducting the Montgomery Bus Boycott-far more than students are likely to imagine from the usual popular and oversimplified versions offered in textbooks and on television. There is a refreshing emphasis on depictions of regular people and forgotten local crusaders working together to make the boycott possible and triumphant, from inspiring descriptions of drivers getting up at dawn to take others to work to accounts of well-known civil-rights lawyers working to find the right plaintiff to challenge unjust laws. Freedman's prose style pulls readers into the narrative, integrating the actual recorded words and deeds of the people to tell the story. The high-quality, black-and-white photographs range from everyday scenes of African-American boycotters meeting, waiting for carpools, and protesting to representations of more famous figures, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. Extensive chapter notes, an annotated selected bibliography, and a thorough index round out the exemplary presentation. Pair this volume with Ann Bausum's Freedom Riders (National Geographic) and Nikki Giovanni's Rosa (Holt, both 2005) for a powerful introduction to the Civil Rights Movement.-Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Beginning with the story of a college professor's frightening experience on a Montgomery bus, Freedman brings this oft-told story to an audience ready to move beyond the popular legend. Civil-rights activist E.D. Nixon was looking for the best person to be the standard-bearer in a constitutional challenge to the segregated bus system of Montgomery, Ala. Though several others had been confronted or arrested on the buses, Rosa Parks was the perfect choice. Intelligent and quiet, the 42-year-old Parks had been involved in civil-rights work for years. Her arrest was used to launch the modern Civil Rights movement, resulting in a successful strike of 381 days and the eventual U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Alabama's bus segregation laws were unconstitutional. Freedman does a masterful job of making a complex point in history--with so many key players and pivotal events--accessible and interesting to a young audience. The focus is on everyday people acting on behalf of what was right, even before they knew it would become a movement, people who became "actors in an historical drama that changed a nation." Clear prose, well-chosen photographs and superb source notes and bibliography make this an essential source on the topic. (map, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 8-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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