Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

By: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie

In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.
Memphis sanitation strike time line. Museum to visit. Sources. Source notes. Full-color gouache illustrations.

ISBN: 9781629797182

JLG Release: Oct 2018


Sensitive Areas: Racism, Violence, Death
Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr (1929–1968) , Sanitation strikes , Sanitation workers , Labor rights , Civil rights , Memphis, Tennessee , Social themes , Prejudice and racism , Twentieth-century US history

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Awards & Honors

2019 Coretta Scott King Award Honor, Illustration
ALSC Notable Children's Books - 2019
CSMCL Best Books - 2018
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth - 2018
Kirkus Best Books, Picture Books - 2018
School Library Journal Best Books - 2018
Nonfiction Detectives Best Nonfiction - 2018

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews*, Booklist*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

Duncan tells the story of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. through the voice of Lorraine Jackson, an invented character who looks back on her childhood as the nine-year-old daughter of a sanitation worker. The book opens with a poem, beginning simply, “I remember Memphis,” and continues mostly i Duncan tells the story of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. through the voice of Lorraine Jackson, an invented character who looks back on her childhood as the nine-year-old daughter of a sanitation worker. The book opens with a poem, beginning simply, “I remember Memphis,” and continues mostly in prose, with several pages of poetry in different formats interspersed. The haiku “Omen” is striking amid the longer pages: “Yellow Daffodils. Sixteen inches under snow. King canceled his march.” The language throughout is powerful. Christie’s Acryla gouache paintings are breathtaking, from the wide white brush strokes in the snowy background of the aforementioned haiku, to the impeccable rendering of Coretta Scott King marching in a widow’s veil four days after her husband’s assassination. Lorraine is depicted earnestly with braids in bows, and bobby socks. Warm yellows and oranges and cool blues alternate as backgrounds to most full-bleed pages. The text is fully researched, with cited sources, and draws many details from interviews with a Memphis teacher who experienced this moment in history as a child. VERDICT A superbly written and illustrated work. A first purchase for public and school libraries.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Book Details

ISBN

9781629797182

First Release

October 2018

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

331.892/8135393

Trim Size

11" x 8 1/2"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.9; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level 800L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Calkins Creek

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Racism, Violence, Death

Topics

Martin Luther King, Jr (1929–1968), Sanitation strikes, Sanitation workers, Labor rights, Civil rights, Memphis, Tennessee, Social themes, Prejudice and racism, Twentieth-century US history,

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