Posted tagged ‘E. B. Lewis’

A Must-Read Book for African American History Month

February 20, 2020

Lizzie

Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, there was another African American woman who fought for the right to have a seat on a streetcar. Lizzie Demands a Seat!  Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights is written by Beth Anderson and illustrated by award-winning E. B. Lewis. The year is 1854 and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings, an African American woman living in New York City, is late for choir practice. She boards the first streetcar that comes along, but the conductor stops her and tells her to wait for another car coming “for your people.” Even though Lizzie is a respected school teacher, church organist, and born a “free black” in a “free state,” she has never been treated as an equal. Lizzie sees plenty of empty seats on the streetcar and no one is objecting to her riding it, but when she stands her ground, the conductor is infuriated. He calls the driver for help, and Lizzie is roughly thrown off the car. She picks herself up and climbs back on. The angry conductor tells the driver to go and not to stop until he sees a police officer. The officer removes Lizzie from the streetcar with a harsh warning. She is left shaken and hurt. Lizzie’s parents are abolitionists, fighting for the abolishment of slavery in the South, and Lizzie joins them in their fight for equal rights for black Americans living in the North. After her streetcar incident, Lizzie is more determined than ever to right injustice not only for herself but for all. She decides the only way to accomplish this is in the courtroom. A meeting is called in Lizzie’s African American community where she tells her story. A committee is formed and they retain a white lawyer to represent Lizzie. Her father speaks in churches and writes letters and articles asking for public support. Newspapers run Lizzie’s story. Seven months later, Lizzie appears with her lawyer in court. The case of Elizabeth Jennings v. The Third Avenue Railroad Company begins. Beth Anderson’s rhythmic language and pacing will engage readers and keep them turning the pages to learn the verdict in Lizzie’s court dispute. Along with E. B. Lewis’ appealing illustrations that transport readers back to an earlier era in American history, Beth Anderson’s captivating story and author’s note demonstrate the tenacity of Lizzie Jennings as she champions dignity, justice, and equality.

 

 

 

 


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