Review of Separate No More: The Long Road to Brown v. Board of Education

Separate No More: The Long Road to Brown v. Board of Education
by Lawrence Goldstone
Middle School, High School    Focus/Scholastic    288 pp.    g
1/21    978-1-338-59283-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-59285-6    $11.99

Goldstone (Unpunished Murder, rev. 9/18) takes a long view of the historic 1954 civil rights case Brown v. Board of ­Education, starting with the “separate but equal” doctrine established in 1896 with Plessy v. Ferguson. He highlights important legal cases in between that paved the way for that doctrine to be overturned. He also provides context for the ­political mobilization of African Americans and factors leading up to it, including the efforts of Booker T. ­Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois; the rise of the NAACP, its legal strategy, and the work of Thurgood Marshall. Cultural shifts included reaction against the widespread horrors of Jim Crow–era lynching; social mobility of enlisted ­African ­Americans; the race riots of the Red Summer; and Jackie Robinson’s integration of baseball. Gradually, these disparate elements coalesce into a ­compelling climax as five separate cases wend their way to the Supreme Court. These ­culminating chapters are filled with suspense as various ­factions make it seem impossible to deliver the unanimous decision the occasion demands, but ultimately new Chief Justice Earl Warren, haunted by his role in Japanese American incarceration, builds the necessary consensus. Pair with Susan Goldman Rubin’s Brown v. Board of Education (rev. 11/16), with a narrower focus on the five cases. Black-and-white photos with captions enhance the narrative, and the back matter includes a bibliography, source notes, and an index (unseen).

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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