June 23, 2016
She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, illustrated by Charlotta Janssen
She Stood for Freedom:
The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland
by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell
illustrated by Charlotta Janssen
Joan grew up in Arlington, Virginia and spent her summers in Oconee, Georgia with her grandmother. She grew up with a lot of contradictory messages. God loves us all, but black people can’t eat where white people eat. They have to use different bathrooms. They go to separate schools.
One day in Georgia, Joan and her friend Mary walked to the black part of town. They knew they were breaking the rules but they went anyway. The first thing that surprised them was the everyone avoided them. They went inside. Then the girls reached the schoolhouse. The brand new white school on the other side of town was big and red brick. This was a one room shack on stone pilings. Joan realized how wrong segregation was and vowed to fight it wherever she could.
After she went to college, Joan took part in sit ins. She helped the Freedom Riders and was put in jail. She spent two months in Mississippi’s most notorious prison – Parchman. Right around the corner from her cell was the death chamber.
After leaving Parchman, Joan went back to college. She signed up at Tougaloo, a black school in Mississippi. Joan found that not all of the black students trusted her because some of them had never been so close to a white person before. They didn’t know what to think. She even Marched on Washington with Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joan never quit working for Civil Rights. There were several times, including on the way to Parchman, that she expected to be killed, but she wasn’t and she continued to do one small thing after another to further the cause.
As a teacher’s aide, she taught her students one simple lesson: To do what is right. “Remember, you don’t have to change the world . . . just change your world.”
Charlotta Janssen’s collage art work compliments this story of various people working to piece together a new, improved world. I especially enjoyed getting to see the photos of a young Joan. Reading about how her work estranged her from her family brought home just how important this cause was to her and I’m glad that her son, author Loki Mulholland, has worked to bring his mother’s story to light.
Most of the Civil Rights stories that I’ve read have centered on black workers or Northern white activists. Because of this, Joan’s story seemed to fill in a few blanks. Most notably, what was it like for a smart white girl to grow up in the segregated south? How could she not see the injustice? This story clarifies the “how” but also what happens when she does see it and decides to act.
An excellent choice for grade school students who are asking questions about injustice and right vs. wrong.