Known as the Children's Crusade, on May 2, 1963 these children headed out into the streets of Birmingham to protest peacefully. One of their goals was to talk to the Mayor about segregation in their city. On the first day of the protest, hundreds of children were arrested. On the second day, police officers sprayed children with high powered fire hoses, hit them with batons, and threatened them with police dogs. Video footage and photographs of these events ran on evening news broadcasts throughout the United States and the world, leading to a broad outcry against such treatment. On May 10, 1963 city leaders agreed to desegregate businesses in Birmingham and release all who had been imprisoned during the protests. Only one month later, President John F. Kennedy went on television to call for civil rights legislation. Many people consider the Children's Crusade one of the pivotal events of the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Some of the children who participated in the protests were as young as 7 years old!
Let the Children March is an excellent introduction to the Children's Crusade and the concepts of civil rights. It is full of colorful pictures and inspiring quotes from Dr. King and President Kennedy. The book contains a helpful timeline and bibliography for readers and families interested in learning more about civil rights. In addition, the book imparts the important message that you are never too young to stand up for what is right and make a difference in the world. I highly recommend this beautiful and challenging book for elementary aged students.