A boy’s journey through the Civil Rights Movement

Jenna Crawford and lakecentralnews

August of last year marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. For those unfamiliar with this name, it was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. That makes this a perfect time to read “The Rock and the River” by Kekla Magoon.

Set in Chicago in 1968, it follows young Sam Childs, son of political activist, lawyer and friend of Dr. King, Roland Childs. Sam spends an emotional and tragic spring deciding whether to be the “rock” like his father or the “river” like his older brother, Steven. Steven, “Stick,” has joined the Black Panther movement in its early stages in Chicago. This devastates their father who has taken a vow of non-violence to follow Dr. King’s peaceful revolution to secure civil rights for all. What would probably surprise most readers is that the Black Panther party wasn’t all that different than Dr. King’s movement. Sam learns about first love, tremendous loss, and the true meaning of loyalty on his search for finding out who he really is.

Anyone interested in the history of the Civil Rights Movement should read this book. It really clears up a lot of misconceptions that many people have about that important time in our history. It tells many stories at once and is suspenseful, so it makes you want to keep reading. The characters are very real, and Kekla Magoon writes in such a way that makes you truly care about what happens to them. She puts these fictional characters into actual historical situations, making you feel like it all really happened. Although this book is heartbreaking at times, it is a must-read for realistic fiction fans.