Description from GoodReads:
An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history in this picture book publishing in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. Veteran bestselling picture-book author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America’s battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman’s fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.
My thoughts on this book:
Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. After 50 years, you would think that we would be smarter and wiser. However, in reading Winter's note at the end, I am saddened to learn that the right to vote could be on shaky grounds. The elimination of Federal oversight of states' election processes by the Supreme Court in 2013 has resulted in states requiring "voter ID laws". (Winter's Author Note) Unfortunately, we do not seem to learn from our past mistakes. Consequently, it is books like this that can help keep awareness alive in new generations.
The old woman featured in the story is a composite of many of the African American individuals who
I was particularly struck by how illustrator, Shane Evans, juxtaposes Lillian against a hundred years of history of her family from slavery to freedom to every obstacle that was placed to keep African Americans from voting. His choice and use of color communicates to readers both the struggle and the accomplishment of this journey.
Add in the progression of moving up a hill as an analogy for the battle for the right to vote, and the story through text and illustrations provide a powerful message for children and adults. Readers get to celebrate with Lillian as she finally makes it into a voting booth and votes for the very first time.
Pick up a copy of Lillian's Right to Vote at your local indie bookstore or community library, and let's us continue to remember the importance of all people having the right to vote.