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This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality

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In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one anoth In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students---found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

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In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one anoth In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students---found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

30 review for This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Hsu Feldman

    This verse memoir delivers punches, reflections, and vividly lived experiences of a 14-year-old African American student whose first year in the first integrated Tennessee state high school could teach us so much - about the danger of hateful ideologies and how easily people could be swayed by carefully orchestrated propaganda based on discontent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bethany M. Edwards

    This non-fiction novel in verse is the story of the 12 students at Central High School in the small town of Clinton, Tennessee who caught the nation's attention. This never been told, first-hand account will enrapture readers, young and old, of what happened when Clinton High School was integrated after the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education. The Promise of Change was done in part by one of the 12 students, Jo Ann Allen. I have been a long time fan of author and historian Debbie Lev This non-fiction novel in verse is the story of the 12 students at Central High School in the small town of Clinton, Tennessee who caught the nation's attention. This never been told, first-hand account will enrapture readers, young and old, of what happened when Clinton High School was integrated after the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education. The Promise of Change was done in part by one of the 12 students, Jo Ann Allen. I have been a long time fan of author and historian Debbie Levy, so I feel strongly this collaboration is a beautiful gift to all of us. Jo Ann was just 14 years old when she was pushed into the national spotlight as the spokesperson to discuss the struggles Black children faced at newly integrated high schools. From local newspapers, all the way to interviews with the Attorney General, Jo Ann exudes poise and inner strength clearly visible through the white space on the page. Also within each chapter are copies of the news articles and headlines chronicling the story in real time. Chilling details of the wrath and vitriol spewed each time Jo Ann and the 11 other classmates attempted to go to school each day gives new perspective to civil rights history.  The account Jo Ann gives of one particular teacher that showed kindness while her own neighbors who borrowed sugar turned their backs shows young readers how closely hypocrisy and decency go hand in hand. Much like today's generation with child activists such as Mari Copeny or Emma Gonzalez, the brave voice of a child insisting the adults and lawmakers give them their basic human rights of an education and protection from harm is extremely powerful.   This incredibly moving and well written story of the Clinton 12 shines a necessary light on a dark place and worthy of it's place in our history books.  Disclaimer: I was given a copy of by the publisher to facilitate the review. As always, all opinions are my own

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Kim

    Written with lightning

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    Wiping away tears as I finish. What a book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    The story of the Clinton 12 who desegregated the high school in Clinton, TN, written by one of them. I thought that writing it in verse was an inspired choice. Sometimes, though, the structured rhyming poems pulled me out of the story. I think it would have flowed better if it were all in free verse. You do a hard thing and you think it's going to get easier over time. Things did not get easier for the Clinton 12. Things got harder and harder. And it wasn't the education that was the problem -- it The story of the Clinton 12 who desegregated the high school in Clinton, TN, written by one of them. I thought that writing it in verse was an inspired choice. Sometimes, though, the structured rhyming poems pulled me out of the story. I think it would have flowed better if it were all in free verse. You do a hard thing and you think it's going to get easier over time. Things did not get easier for the Clinton 12. Things got harder and harder. And it wasn't the education that was the problem -- it was the people. I do understand her point that the people who said "we don't like it, but we will abide by the law" were really no better than those who were outright hateful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Monica Edinger

    Outstanding!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    High 4-Sometimes novels in verse are hit or miss but this was really powerful. It was about the author's experience of going to Clinton High School, the first to integrate in the 1950's. This would be great paired up with "Lions of Little Rock."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Czechgirl

    How wonderful that Jo Ann Allen wrote a novel for children to understand what she went through during desegregation and how she felt. I love that she wrote this in verse. I feel a story told in verse will attract more middle-grade readers; in turn, more learning about this and becoming more empathetic to anyone who is different.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    powerful and moving, memorable as all get out, and such an important story. I would have given it a fifth star except that, although I liked the free verse sections, I found the more formal poetic verse sections awkward to read (a preference, more than a criticism)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sunday Cummins

    Where to start? There’s so much I’d like to say about this book. First – just read it. You’ve heard about the Little Rock 9 and you’ve heard about Ruby Bridges but before both, in August 1956, there was the Clinton 12. Co-author Jo Ann Allen was one of the 12 and she tells her story in verse. I finished in one sitting. A tragic tale with riveting moments. As a reader, you meet and are immersed in the story of beautiful people who suffered the injustices of a racist society. Woven into the format Where to start? There’s so much I’d like to say about this book. First – just read it. You’ve heard about the Little Rock 9 and you’ve heard about Ruby Bridges but before both, in August 1956, there was the Clinton 12. Co-author Jo Ann Allen was one of the 12 and she tells her story in verse. I finished in one sitting. A tragic tale with riveting moments. As a reader, you meet and are immersed in the story of beautiful people who suffered the injustices of a racist society. Woven into the format of the book are quotes from those involved and headlines from newspapers across the nation. At the end of the book, Jo Ann Allen and Debbie Levy share words, there are more details about what happened to each of the 12 students (only two graduated from Clinton High School), photographs, and a timeline of school desegregation and civil rights landmarks. There are a variety of poetic forms used in the book – acrostic, ballad, cinquain, cascade, Haiku, ode—but they tell the story in a seamless way. In other words, shifts in poetic forms are not disruptive. I barely noticed until I read the author’s note listing the types of forms (at the end of the book). I’d BOOK TALK this in 4th-8th grades or READ ALOUD or purchase for a LITERATURE CIRCLE. There’s so much for students to read and chew on in this book. Poems about the bigger issues like the arrival of John Kasper, a racist who arrived in town and instigated a mob mentality, knocking on doors, organizing rallies against the desegregation of the high school and then there’s a short poem about Jo Ann’s father. Poems about how the 12 were treated so badly by many kids in the school and then a poem about a beloved elderly neighbor, “Mother Lula,” who passes away during this period. Several themes run throughout the book – courage, perseverance, determination. What struck me as powerful though was the idea threaded throughout that many people were about “integration” because it was “the law” not because it was the right thing to do. The writing is powerful and worthy, worthy of student-led discussions. Take a look at the names of the parts of the book and then at the poem titles—as a way to discuss the authors’ purposes or decisions in how to organize the book in a way that supports the themes in the book. The poems are…well, they are poetic ;). I found myself marking pages like the poem on pages 90-91 entitled “Hearing/Unhearing” in which Jo Ann Allen describes a time as a child when she went into a store with her father and a little white girl her age said, “Oh, Mommy, look at the little n----- babies!” The poem closes with – We walked out of that store. We left behind that girl with that word in her mouth, a word that assaults us almost daily. But now, I don’t want to walk out. I want to walk in. I can’t unhear what I hear. I won’t walk away from it either. And then there’s the quotes – from players like the Clinton High School principal and headlines or excerpts from local and national newspapers like the Washington Post. Wow – perfectly placed at various points in the book with a lot of punch. Would love to hear students discuss the impact of the authors’ choice to include these. I don’t think we have to over think teaching with this book. I think we simply look at students and say, “Hmmmm…what are you thinking? What makes you think so? Why is that important to think about? Even today?” or teach them to ask each other these questions. I know this book has already received some recognition. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t win several awards. Regardless, it’s well worth your students’ time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)

    See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher. School integration and the Deep South have quite the history that’s far too recent for my tastes. When Georgia’s resistance to integration dragged on into the 1970s and forced the federal government to get involved, my own mother had to fight to stay in public school with her friends; my great-grandparents tried to put her in a private school that had been set up solely so the most racist of white parents wouldn See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher. School integration and the Deep South have quite the history that’s far too recent for my tastes. When Georgia’s resistance to integration dragged on into the 1970s and forced the federal government to get involved, my own mother had to fight to stay in public school with her friends; my great-grandparents tried to put her in a private school that had been set up solely so the most racist of white parents wouldn’t have to let their children be taught alongside black kids. But we ain’t here to talk about my mom’s experience. We’re here for brave, brilliant people like Jo Ann Allen Boyce and her perspective on a problem that’s never really gone away. It’s equal parts historical memoir and an incitement to work hard right now for change. Teenage Jo Ann Allen wasn’t that happy about segregation, as you might gather from just the first few pages. But she tried to look on the bright side of things like her dad and found peace with the way things were in Clinton, Tennessee. Not satisfaction, merely peace. Then Brown v. Board's ruling comes down and a local judge reversing his ruling on a previous case means Jo Ann and eleven other teens will be integrating Clinton High School. If you know your history, you know what follows: riots over Labor Day, a bombing in 1958, and just two of the Clinton Twelve staying at the school until graduation. What you don’t know until you read This Promise of Change was how it firsthand felt to be a black girl charged to be one of twelve integrating a public high school in the Deep South–making Allen and her peers the second group to do so after the tiny town of Charleston, Arkansas did the same in 1954. This was before Little Rock and Ruby Bridges as well as at the tail end of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And here we have Jo Ann, a teenage girl who wants to become a nurse and loves to sing. Exquisitely detailed notes and appendices at the end of the book both highlight the musical nature of the book’s free verse and outline those choices. Some chapters are traditional poetry with rhyme schemes you’ll remember from English class and others are closer to freeform verse. Both ways, readers will get wrapped up in the notes. There will be some serious temptation to read some of the chapters out loud to fully enjoy the rhythm and rhyme! If you’re white like me, you might be in danger of looking at the white people in Jo Ann’s life and thinking “oh yay, there’s a decent human being!” DON’T FALL FOR IT. Most of those same white people, like Clinton High’s principal and one of the teachers, don’t want black children in their school at all but are going with it because that’s the new law of the land. They want to be law-abiding citizens, but they’d prefer to stay segregated. Their part in enrolling and keeping the kids in Clinton High School deserves no praise whatsoever. Heck, it makes me furious on the students’ behalf! Look. If someone is only advocating for a human being’s rights because the law says they should, that person is not an ally. For instance, someone who’s pro-gay rights because it’s the law but privately thinks gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married or have job security nationwide? That’s not a good citizen, that’s a phony. The integration of Clinton High School was a moment in a movement that’s still not over. Thanks to redlining and gentrification, plenty of public schools are still segregated in addition to entire towns! Mom’s hometown is still so segregated by so-called “tradition” that there are two different funeral homes and which one you end up in when you die depends on what color your skin is. This Promise of Change hosts decades of experience and centuries of pain in the four-month period Jo Ann spent as a Clinton High School student. It’s both a reflection and a call to action beautifully composed in verse and it’s the kind of book that deserves pairing with any history of the civil rights movement. (That also requires teachers who actually teach about the civil rights movement, which most of mine did not because they were too busy whitewashing things and only giving us secondhand/thirdhand sources about the experiences of POC in the US. Schools: still racist!)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    This nonfiction novel in verse tells the story of Jo Ann Allen, one of the twelve African-American students who were among the first in the nation to integrate a segregated high school in the South. The small town of Clinton, Tennessee became one of the first communities to attempt desegregation after the Supreme Court ruling made segregation illegal. A year before the Little Rock 9, this lesser-known group of brave students at first attended their new school without incident but then outside ag This nonfiction novel in verse tells the story of Jo Ann Allen, one of the twelve African-American students who were among the first in the nation to integrate a segregated high school in the South. The small town of Clinton, Tennessee became one of the first communities to attempt desegregation after the Supreme Court ruling made segregation illegal. A year before the Little Rock 9, this lesser-known group of brave students at first attended their new school without incident but then outside agitators, the KKK and other white supremacists got involved. As the issue grew, simply attending school became too dangerous for the African-American students. When they were escorted by a local white pastor to school, he ended up beaten and almost killed. Jo Ann became a spokesperson for the group of students and for integrating schools in general. Her story is one of resilience and tolerance. Levy very successfully uses various forms of poetic verse to tell Jo Ann’s story in this book. In her author’s note, she speaks about why verse was the logical choice as it captured the musicality of Jo Ann’s speech. Her skill is evident on the page, capturing both the quiet parts of Jo Ann’s life and the dramatic moments of desegregation including acts of hatred against the students. Jo Ann’s story is told in a way that allows young readers to understand this moment in United States history in a more complete way. The images at the end of the book and additional details shared there add to this as well. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that these moments have been lost to history and this group of twelve students is not as well-known as the Little Rock 9. At the same time, that is what makes this book all the more compelling to read as their story is more nuanced since the mayor and governor did not defy the Supreme Court’s ruling. Beautifully written, this heartbreaking and dramatic story of courage in the face of hatred belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    Schools being desegregated feels like centuries ago, at least to me. It's not that far, though. My mom was in high school when her school was integrated (in Delaware), and while she doesn't remember any problems, I'd be very curious what her new classmates felt and if they would agree. This is an astonishing book full of incredibly brave people. Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve people in her Tennessee high school to go to the formerly all white school. There were protesters outside and there were m Schools being desegregated feels like centuries ago, at least to me. It's not that far, though. My mom was in high school when her school was integrated (in Delaware), and while she doesn't remember any problems, I'd be very curious what her new classmates felt and if they would agree. This is an astonishing book full of incredibly brave people. Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve people in her Tennessee high school to go to the formerly all white school. There were protesters outside and there were mean people inside, but some were nice. I can't even imagine the courage it took to walk to school every day, with people yelling (on good days) and throwing things (on bad ones). But they kept going. Sometimes they were accompanied by police and once by a white preacher, but they kept going. If school was open, they were there. There are also snippets of newspaper articles and pictures of Jo Ann and the others, and there are pictures of some of the protesters. I sometimes wonder how they feel about the fact that they're on record as being racist. Does that bother them? I hope so.  This is an amazing story, and I hope I would have even a tenth of Jo Ann's bravery in her situation.  Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    @kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy was released on 1.8.19! This beautifully written and powerful non-fiction novel in verse gives readers a look into what is was like for the Clinton 12. The Clinton 12 refers to the twelve African American students who integrated into a school for whites only. As the community fought against the 12, Jo Ann writes a ve @kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy was released on 1.8.19! This beautifully written and powerful non-fiction novel in verse gives readers a look into what is was like for the Clinton 12. The Clinton 12 refers to the twelve African American students who integrated into a school for whites only. As the community fought against the 12, Jo Ann writes a very important piece that should be in all classrooms. This book will teach empathy, courage, and perseverance. As I read, I thought about connecting it to The Lions of Little Rock in my classroom book clubs. This book, a quick read, will open a new door for you! I highly recommend! #middlegradereads #kidlitexchange #whatimreadingnow #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #summerreads #teacherlibrarian #readingteacher #mglit #book #bookstagram

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    I wish more classrooms had books like this at the ready for when discussing the time periods the books cover in class. When you learn something out of a textbook, the history feels disjointed. Books like this makes history come to life and become more meaningful for readers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    Richie’s Picks: THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE: ONE GIRL’S STORY IN THE FIGHT FOR SCHOOL EQUALITY by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy, Bloomsbury, January 2019, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-68119-852-1 “You made me promises promises Knowing I’d believe Promises promises You knew you’d never keep” -- Burt Bacharach and Hal David (1968) “Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites...Americans believe that blacks and whites are more e Richie’s Picks: THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE: ONE GIRL’S STORY IN THE FIGHT FOR SCHOOL EQUALITY by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy, Bloomsbury, January 2019, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-68119-852-1 “You made me promises promises Knowing I’d believe Promises promises You knew you’d never keep” -- Burt Bacharach and Hal David (1968) “Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites...Americans believe that blacks and whites are more equal today than they truly are on measures of income, wealth, wages and health benefits. And they believe more historical progress has occurred than is the case, suggesting ‘a profound misperception of and unfounded optimism’ regarding racial equality. ‘It seems that we’ve convinced ourselves-- and by “we” I mean Americans writ at large--that racial discrimination is a thing of the past...We’ve literally overcome it, so to speak, despite blatant evidence to the contrary.’” -- New York Times, “Whites Have Huge Wealth Edge Over Blacks (but Don’t Know It)” (9/18/17) “A NICE WALK Some days, Bobby Cain and I walk home from school together to Jarnigan Street, 437 for me, 434 for him. We set out, talking about the day. Was it a better day than yesterday? Was it worse? Either way, it’s a nice walk. I know that Bobby wanted to keep going to Austin High in Knoxville, to have this year, his senior year, at a place that was familiar and friendly to him, even if it was a long ride away, but the desegregation order came down, and Clinton High became his school. It’s hard for him, harder for him than for me and the others, because the people who hate that we’re in classes with students at Clinton High School hate even more the idea of a Negro student graduating with the white students. So Bobby gets more of the bad-- name-calling, threats, shoving, spitting. I know he thought of quitting during those first few days, but if the people who attacked him in the ruckus at the Richy Kreme thought they would scare him away, they were wrong. Since then he is like a rock, not only still here, but solid and strong and determined, a hero in the making, not that I would say that to him. He would think I was exaggerating or teasing or, maybe, flirting, and I am not flirting with Bobby Cain. I am listening to his soft talk of his hard days on our nice walk.” I can’t remember anything of 1956, the year during which THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE takes place. I was a toddler in diapers. But my memories begin soon thereafter. Fifties rock and roll. Black and white TVs. Huge cushy cars with none of today’s aerodynamic styling. Yo-yos and hula hoops. The milkman delivering milk in glass bottles to a little box on the front steps. It feels miraculous when I contemplate the technological progress that has taken place over my lifetime. I sit here with my Chromebook and iPhone, an information specialist with the world at my fingertips. I’m old enough to remember bicycling to the library, paging through the enormous Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, scribbling down citations on little pieces of paper, handing them to the reference librarian, then taking a stack of newspapers and magazines to a table and poring through them to end up with an answer or a quotation. Now I sit here with my screens and achieve better results in far less time than it took the ten year-old me just to put on my sneakers and get my blue Stingray bike out of the garage. But not everything changes, and that’s why reading THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE, an exceptional verse novel about the desegregation of Tennessee’s Clinton High School in 1956, made me really angry. It once again reminds me that while we’ve sent people to the moon, space probes to the far reaches of the galaxy, can now live half of our lives online, and are on the verge of driverless cars, we still can’t get a grip on treating people fairly, treating everyone in the same manner as we would want to be treated. Or trying to make up a bit for how long we, and previous generations, have let this go on. When I put myself in the shoes of today’s black Americans, knowing what I do in this era of Black Lives Matter, the American Dream still feels like an unfulfilled promise or, at best, a half-filled promise. I wasn’t surprised by the vile words and horrific actions depicted in THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE. I’ve encountered comparable bad behavior portrayed in umpteen number of books covering the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. I still, far too often, read about the racism today. And I’ve never forgotten about the house under construction in my LI suburban neighborhood, during my blue Stingray days, that was firebombed--twice--because of who it was being built for. I’ve been upset for a long time about those unfulfilled promises. And it still gets me right there, reading about the pain Jo Ann Allen and her eleven brave classmates endured in 1956 after a federal judge ruled that, as per the Supreme Court’s Brown decision, Clinton High School was to be desegregated. Jo Ann and the other eleven black children had, until then, been forced to take a long bus ride over to Knoxville to attend the nearest negro high school. Now, in the fall of 1956, they simply had to walk down the hill from their neighborhood into town. Of course, they had to walk past swarms of adults who were cursing them out and throwing things at them in order to reach a school where, every single day, they were tripped, shoved, cursed, and told to go elsewhere. When a white minister took up their cause, that man of God was nearly killed by a vengeful white mob. Reading about what happened in 1956 really shook me up. It’s disgusting. It’s America. For all that has changed since 1956, the change promised has yet to arrive. But THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE, a riveting piece of American history that is co-written by one of the participants, and which deftly employs a variety of poetic forms, is a fantastic read. Richie Partington, MLIS Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/ [email protected]

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    A heartfelt biography told in verse (some free verse, some structured poems) from Jo Ann Allen Boyce, one of the Clinton 12 who all bravely endured so much in desegregating their Tennessee high school in 1956. I had never read about the Clinton 12 prior to this, so I learned a lot and Jo Ann was so honest in her and her family's thoughts and emotions and with both the violence they endured and support they received. I also loved how her faith is woven within through prayers, questions, and verse A heartfelt biography told in verse (some free verse, some structured poems) from Jo Ann Allen Boyce, one of the Clinton 12 who all bravely endured so much in desegregating their Tennessee high school in 1956. I had never read about the Clinton 12 prior to this, so I learned a lot and Jo Ann was so honest in her and her family's thoughts and emotions and with both the violence they endured and support they received. I also loved how her faith is woven within through prayers, questions, and verses. So good. The writing as a whole is very engaging throughout, and the last 30+ pages of back matter are so informative and valuable to read and study. I highly recommend this book! (For upper middle grade, teen, and adult readers) Favorite quotes/powerful moments: *-p. 32 is wow *-"From church I learned / that all people come / from the same Source. / We are all created by God. / Black, white, yellow, red, brown. / Equal. / So when someone says an / ugly word about us / because we are black, / I know they are ignorant. / Ignorant of God, / ignorant of what it means / to be one of God's children; / I know they are backward, / and I look forward." - p. 46 -I really like the repetition used in the poem on p. 66-67 -"Yes, it is difficult / to change a promise of change / into real change." - p. 129 *-"Lord Jesus, / I pray, / please keep me safe / and my friends safe / and not let anyone harm us. / We say Amen, / and Mamie says her prayer, / which is a lot like mine. / Some nights we cry a little, / because even believers / can be afraid." - p. 194 -"If claiming our rights / could so easily unleash these wrongs, / maybe it was never our town / at all." - p. 196 -"...it is your moral right; / well, when finally a white man agrees / desegregation is not just a / matter of law and order, / but is a matter of what is right, / How do we not say AMEN to that?" - p. 212 -also like the poem structure on p. 250-251 of using the second line of the stanza as the first line of the next stanza.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    Thanks to @bloomsburypublishing for this free book (that I LOVED) to share w @kidlitexchange . ❤ . 〰 〰 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 for sure! Put this #civilrights memoir on your purchase list for all middle schools and high schools—it comes out 1/8/19. . 〰 〰 This is one of the very best nonfiction books in verse I have ever read. The combination of Jo Ann Allen Boyce’s searing first person account of her experience integrating Clinton High School in TN with @debbielevybooks skill as a poet is just phenomenal. Interspersed Thanks to @bloomsburypublishing for this free book (that I LOVED) to share w @kidlitexchange . ❤️ . 〰️ 〰️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for sure! Put this #civilrights memoir on your purchase list for all middle schools and high schools—it comes out 1/8/19. . 〰️ 〰️ This is one of the very best nonfiction books in verse I have ever read. The combination of Jo Ann Allen Boyce’s searing first person account of her experience integrating Clinton High School in TN with @debbielevybooks skill as a poet is just phenomenal. Interspersed in the text are quotes from news articles and TV reports from the time period (1956). End notes explain the many different types of poems included in the text—I can definitely see this book as a mentor text in a poetry unit. I will also be purchasing and recommending this book for use by our 8th grade SS teachers during their civil rights unit. Students read Warriors Don’t Cry; this will be an excellent accompanying text. . 〰️ 〰️ The Clinton 12 integrated a year before the Little Rock 9, but their story has faded from the collective memory. Levy explains that is likely because the Clinton 12 event was more nuanced with a principal and mayor who were following the law (Brown v Board), albeit reluctantly. An extensive bibliography, sources for quotes and extensive notes about each of the Clinton 12 are included at the end. This is a first-rate nonfiction book about an important event in American history that shouldn’t be forgotten! I’m so glad I got a chance to read it. Jo Ann’s story is inspirational and important. Her courage in the face of outright racism and injustice is incredible. . 〰️ 〰️ #bookstagram #book #reading #bibliophile #bookworm #bookaholic #booknerd #bookgram #librarian #librariansfollowlibrarians #librariansofinstagram #booklove #booktography #bookstagramfeature #bookish #bookaddict #booknerdigans #booknerd #ilovereading #instabook #futurereadylibs #ISTElibs #TLChat #mgbooks

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A true story of one of the integration of a southern H.S. that took place a year before events in Little Rock. Told through the eyes of 15 year old Jo Ann (the author), as she and eleven black classmates attempt to go to school at the white high school in Clinton, TN. The story is told through poems that are clunky enough at some points to become distracting. To be fair, I read this book shortly after reading The Poet X which was also told in verse and was phenomenal. Despite the hiccups in the A true story of one of the integration of a southern H.S. that took place a year before events in Little Rock. Told through the eyes of 15 year old Jo Ann (the author), as she and eleven black classmates attempt to go to school at the white high school in Clinton, TN. The story is told through poems that are clunky enough at some points to become distracting. To be fair, I read this book shortly after reading The Poet X which was also told in verse and was phenomenal. Despite the hiccups in the verse, this story is an important part of US history. It is moving, infuriating, sad, scary, and ultimately, I would argue, hopeful. Maybe. We're obviously still struggling to achieve true integration in housing, schools, and so much more. This book is an excellent starting point for a discussion of where we've been and how far we still have to go. The end matter includes notes from both authors, a timeline of events related to ending segregation, and a thoughtful discussion about why the events in Clinton have been lost to history. The authors argue that the nuanced responses of the white people in Clinton, their obvious reluctance to integrate coupled (in tension) with their unwillingness to flout the law, may be part of the reason other desegregation stories have remained in the public eye. It's easier to tell stories with clear heroes and villains. The authors quote MLK at the end: "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A verse non-fiction book, written by one of the students who lived this "first" in 1956, the first school in the American south to integrate after the landmark Brown vs Education of 1954 case that decreed that separate schools for black and white children are "inherently unequal". Jo Ann Allen Boyce partnered with Debbie Levy to write this story, Jo Ann's story! It is about that year, from end-of-summer prep, some family and neighbors' introduction, then those months that actually began fairly A verse non-fiction book, written by one of the students who lived this "first" in 1956, the first school in the American south to integrate after the landmark Brown vs Education of 1954 case that decreed that separate schools for black and white children are "inherently unequal". Jo Ann Allen Boyce partnered with Debbie Levy to write this story, Jo Ann's story! It is about that year, from end-of-summer prep, some family and neighbors' introduction, then those months that actually began fairly well, but worsened day by day, until Jo Ann's family moved to LA. At this beginning are her words "If school were weather, I would say it's serious/with a chance of friendly." Still later, more protests brought in the troops who had to escort the students "down the hill" to school. FYI - African-Americans mostly lived on a hill above the town. " P lease, let the troops bring Clinton back from the E dge of the cliff A ll we want is to go to our school without the C yclone of ugliness without fear without hate with E ase " There is nothing easy about this story, nothing easy to read about those who spit, hit, shoved, wrote hate notes to these twelve students. It's well done with an underpinning of loss that made me sad for the kids and for the families. And you know some is still happening in our world today, sixty-three years later. There is a wealth of backmatter, notes from both authors, a timeline, a bit about the kinds of poetry, a bibliography and further sources. I can imagine a classroom could use this as a beginning study of desegregation history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Hudson

    The story of how 12 black students integrated a public high school in Clinton, Tennessee, in 1956 is not as well known as other stories of children breaking down race barriers during that time. This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality brings that event to life, as it is told by one of the 12 to experience it: Jo Ann Allen. Told in verse and co-authored with Debbie Levy, This Promise of Change reveals an incredible story of the author’s resilience and determination The story of how 12 black students integrated a public high school in Clinton, Tennessee, in 1956 is not as well known as other stories of children breaking down race barriers during that time. This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality brings that event to life, as it is told by one of the 12 to experience it: Jo Ann Allen. Told in verse and co-authored with Debbie Levy, This Promise of Change reveals an incredible story of the author’s resilience and determination to bring about change. She and her black classmates endured everything from shoves and jabs in the hallway to threats of worse physical violence on their way to and from school. Outside protesters whipped up anti-integration emotions among locals. Throughout the threats and the violence, arrests and protests, Jo Ann and the other students stayed the course. Looking back from the perspective that encompasses 60 years of history since that time, it’s hard to imagine high school students having to endure what this group and others like them endured. They started out only wanting equal access to education and activities and ended up paving the way for those who came behind them. Often, their courage created a toll on their families as well as themselves. This Promise of Change brings up lots of issues to discuss around the integration of schools, what it means to take risks for something you believe in, and so much more. I highly recommend it for readers aged 10 and up. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    This is the story of a little known (now) part of the Civil Rights Movement. In the fall of 1956, twelve black students entered Clinton (Tennessee) High School as the first desegregated high school in the South. Jo Ann Allen Boyce was fifteen and one of those students. She lasted through an eventful semester with riots, Ku Klux Klan cross burnings, and national attention. She also personally dealt with harassment from other students and a strong sense of isolation and fear as she went to school. This is the story of a little known (now) part of the Civil Rights Movement. In the fall of 1956, twelve black students entered Clinton (Tennessee) High School as the first desegregated high school in the South. Jo Ann Allen Boyce was fifteen and one of those students. She lasted through an eventful semester with riots, Ku Klux Klan cross burnings, and national attention. She also personally dealt with harassment from other students and a strong sense of isolation and fear as she went to school. Finally, her family gave up and moved to California both for a better education for their children and for better job opportunities for the parents too. Jo Ann was interviewed a number of times during the months she was attending school in Tennessee and after she moved to California too. She continued, and continues, to visit schools and speak about her time as one of the Clinton 12. Her story is told in verse in quite a number of formats including forms from free verse to haiku to a variety of rhyme schemes. The use of poetry really highlighted the intense emotions of the time and the trials Jo Ann and the other Clinton 12 faced. Through it all, Jo Ann's faith and optimism shine through despite all the obstacles she faced. The timeline of the Civil Rights Movement at the end marks the milestone of desegregation but ends with the depressing note that segregation still exists in many parts of the United States.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Akoss

    @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Releasing 1/8/19 Change is slow to come. The privilege I am benefiting from today as a Black woman was earned by those who came before me and fought against segregation. Jo Ann Allen Boyce personal account of what it was like being part of the 12 Black students sent to an all-white high school in Clinton Tennessee was terrifying and humbling. The book @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Releasing 1/8/19 Change is slow to come. The privilege I am benefiting from today as a Black woman was earned by those who came before me and fought against segregation. Jo Ann Allen Boyce personal account of what it was like being part of the 12 Black students sent to an all-white high school in Clinton Tennessee was terrifying and humbling. The book starts out with the big picture and as you read on, the authors expertly narrow your focus down to the neighbors inside Clinton. You are placed right on the streets and discover the many facets segregation takes depending on the town or the city. It’s the same everywhere but not quite. Then the narration dives deeper, taking you to levels of “how do you feel when you can’t tell if a smile from a white person truly reaches their heart or not?” for example. This is a crucial non fiction that everyone should read and I hope there are more books like this on their way to publication because people need to “see” what had been. If anyone is interested in a middle grade book that matches this one, I recommend “With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, Hadley, Virginia, 1954”. It’s a historical fiction based on the author’s own experience as a first black student in an all-white school.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lorie Barber

    Only five stars? Nope. Infinite stars for this compelling, beautifully-composed masterpiece, co-written by one of the original Clinton 12, Jo Ann Allen Boyce, and author Debbie Levy. I read this book cover-to-cover in one sitting, from the dedication and the introduction through the authors’ notes, scrapbook and further reading. I wanted to know every scrap of information about this group of courageous young people who came before the Little Rock 9 (this would be so incredible to pair with The L Only five stars? Nope. Infinite stars for this compelling, beautifully-composed masterpiece, co-written by one of the original Clinton 12, Jo Ann Allen Boyce, and author Debbie Levy. I read this book cover-to-cover in one sitting, from the dedication and the introduction through the authors’ notes, scrapbook and further reading. I wanted to know every scrap of information about this group of courageous young people who came before the Little Rock 9 (this would be so incredible to pair with The Lions of Little Rock) and Ruby Bridges, yet few people know their story. It is indeed Jo Ann’s story that amazed, gripped, and haunted me. Her first-person perspective was powerful enough, but then for Allen Boyce - with Levy - to choose so many different poetic forms in which to tell only made her story more fascinating. Switching from lyrical free-verse to pounding rhythmic and rhyming quartets when true events were at their most highly-charged? And all of this powerful poetry supported by newspaper headlines, legal opinions, and quotes from those involved? I’ve never seen this before in a narrative nonfiction and I was unequivocally blown away. I am in awe and feel quite certain that I will be for some time. This is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read and definitely one of 2019’s best. I will proudly carry This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality on the shelves of my classroom library. It is an imperative read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Keshia

    @kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network, publisher @bloomsburypublishing, and author @debbielevybooks for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This is a nonfiction story of the first twelve students in Tennessee to integrate a high school, told in verse. Choosing to tell this story through verse feels very intentional, as the beat and rhythm can help the reader understand how the high schoolers felt in each moment. Nervous, excited, scared are all convey @kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network, publisher @bloomsburypublishing, and author @debbielevybooks for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This is a nonfiction story of the first twelve students in Tennessee to integrate a high school, told in verse. Choosing to tell this story through verse feels very intentional, as the beat and rhythm can help the reader understand how the high schoolers felt in each moment. Nervous, excited, scared are all conveyed through the way the words feel and sound on a page. I enjoyed learning about an integration story I hadn’t heard before, but I especially love the personal insight to this story, as one of the coauthors was there to experience what integration felt like. It takes the story from hard facts (which, to be honest, is hard for me to read) to something more personal and feeling that I can relate to. This is a story of people. While this story is marketed towards 4-8 grades, I’d recommend reading it along with your child or with class discussions for grades 4-6. There are heavy topics a child may not understand, and also some constitutional vocabulary to break down. I also believe that high schoolers would enjoy this book, even if the reading level seems “too low” for them. The epilogue delves a little more into the history of the time, too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This Promise of Change is the story of Jo Ann Allen Boyce who was one of the Clinton 12 who fought for the right to be allowed to go to the same high school as the white students in Clinton, Tennessee. It takes place right after the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. The school district made the decision to desegregate and follow the letter of the law. Things start with just a few minor protests but as word gets out and outsiders come in the protests grow and become This Promise of Change is the story of Jo Ann Allen Boyce who was one of the Clinton 12 who fought for the right to be allowed to go to the same high school as the white students in Clinton, Tennessee. It takes place right after the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. The school district made the decision to desegregate and follow the letter of the law. Things start with just a few minor protests but as word gets out and outsiders come in the protests grow and become violent. Jo Ann becomes the unwitting spokesperson of the students involved. It is a role she never wanted. This is a harrowing first person account of the events surrounding what desegregation of the school in Clinton, Tennessee. While it is lesser known than the events in Little Rock or those that surrounded Ruby Bridges, it is just as horrifying. In the afterword of the book there is speculation as to why this might be so. Also included at the end was a glossary of sorts of the types of poems used and where they are in the book which I loved. There were also notes about the 12 students involved and where they are now. This book is full of information, beautifully written and highly impactful. I can't recommend it enough.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beth Anderson

    History has a lot to offer. And when books allow us to empathize and connect with people of the past, we have an opportunity to understand times and events on a human level. This is one of those books that touches the heart and will resonate as kids view the world today. A first-person telling from one who experienced the events is priceless. Debbie Levy’s free verse doesn’t crowd the page with description, but rather leaves plenty of white space for thought and reflection on the part of the read History has a lot to offer. And when books allow us to empathize and connect with people of the past, we have an opportunity to understand times and events on a human level. This is one of those books that touches the heart and will resonate as kids view the world today. A first-person telling from one who experienced the events is priceless. Debbie Levy’s free verse doesn’t crowd the page with description, but rather leaves plenty of white space for thought and reflection on the part of the reader. I think this format requires greater investment by the reader and results in a stronger personal connection. The combining of Jo Ann Allen Boyce’s story and Levy’s writing is powerful. Especially interesting are the primary archival materials that are woven into the narrative: statistics, signs, bits from the Tennessee Constitution, newspaper headlines and article excerpts, editorials, picket signs and so much more. We can see what these students were immersed in day after day, the words they read and heard, what it’s like to BE the news. Backmatter includes photos, a civil rights timeline, and information about the authors. This Promise of Change offers a multitude of opportunities for the classroom. Don’t pass this one by!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

    'This Promise of Change' by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy tells the heartbreaking story of one girl's fight to integrate with 11 others into a white high school in the 1950s. In 1956, schools were ordered to fall under the ruling of Brown VS. The Board of Education and integrate their schools. One of the very earliest was in Clinton, Tennessee. Jo Ann Allen was in high school and travelling to another town over to an all black school. She was chosen along with 11 others to be the first black 'This Promise of Change' by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy tells the heartbreaking story of one girl's fight to integrate with 11 others into a white high school in the 1950s. In 1956, schools were ordered to fall under the ruling of Brown VS. The Board of Education and integrate their schools. One of the very earliest was in Clinton, Tennessee. Jo Ann Allen was in high school and travelling to another town over to an all black school. She was chosen along with 11 others to be the first black student to attend Clinton's all white school. Things did not go well, but throughout, Jo Ann remains poised and determined. Things go from bad to worse as the town finds itself being influenced by outside white supremacists. This book is really good. It's told in a variety of forms of poetry which I was afraid might detract from the story, but actually make it even more readable and interesting. The book includes timelines, photos, and clips from newspaper interviews. The story of this era is heartbreaking, but Jo Ann Allen's courage is a shiny example of faith and courage. I received a review copy of this ebook from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Memory Toast

    There was much to love in this novel-in-verse style autobiography. The duo who wrote it harnessed the power of poetry and first person narrative masterfully. By using a variety of forms of poetry, Allen-Boyce and Levy convey a wide range of emotions. From seriousness to delight to despair to hope, the rhymes and free verse allow the authors to switch handily from one sense to next. The flow of feeling comes off as natural. Yet, the constant change also makes the reader wonder what's coming next. There was much to love in this novel-in-verse style autobiography. The duo who wrote it harnessed the power of poetry and first person narrative masterfully. By using a variety of forms of poetry, Allen-Boyce and Levy convey a wide range of emotions. From seriousness to delight to despair to hope, the rhymes and free verse allow the authors to switch handily from one sense to next. The flow of feeling comes off as natural. Yet, the constant change also makes the reader wonder what's coming next. Along with the poetry that so clearly captures Jo Ann's voice, the first person narrative allows the reader, on a certain level, to live through her story with her. The different settings, events, and characters, also benefit from this format, because though they are disparate, they are bound up in one, real life. This review doesn't so the book justice. If you like civil rights history, novels in verse, or even just stories that cover a wide perspective do yourself a favor and go read this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Sanders

    I've only read one other account of a school desegregation from the point of view of a black student. I cried reading that book and this one. The stories are a painful reminder that ending slavery did not end the racism and problems for African Americans. In "This Promise of Change" Jo Ann tells her story in verse. I love stories done this way because every word matters in poetry. The images she evoked were vivid. I also liked the primary source newspaper clips throughout the book. The town of C I've only read one other account of a school desegregation from the point of view of a black student. I cried reading that book and this one. The stories are a painful reminder that ending slavery did not end the racism and problems for African Americans. In "This Promise of Change" Jo Ann tells her story in verse. I love stories done this way because every word matters in poetry. The images she evoked were vivid. I also liked the primary source newspaper clips throughout the book. The town of Clinton, TN made the decision to desegregate because it was the law--not because it was the right thing to do. People came from out of town to help protesters and even to lead the protesting of 12 black students being integrated into the Clinton all white high school. Before 1956 black students were bused over 20 miles to Knoxville to attend the all black Austin High School. This is the painful story of what Jo Ann and her class mates went through the first year of desegregation in Clinton.

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