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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lesser Known Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement--Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we are looking at different Civil Rights Movement Leaders. We are joining other blogs and sharing all of these wonderful stories at Multicultural Kid Blogs Black History Month Blog Hop. The theme of Black History Month is the Civil Rights Movement in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So far we have explored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and the song: We Shall Overcome. Today I am going to share a fictional book based on the author's father's life. It tells the story of a lesser-known hero from the Civil Rights Movement. I am sure there were many like this that were probably only heard of in their area of the country. Luckily Pamela Tuck took her father's story and changed it a bit to tell us a tale of that time in As Fast As Words Could Fly.



The story is about a 14-year-old African American boy whose father is part of the a group fighting for Civil Rights. The boy, Mason, helped the group by taking notes from his father and transforming them into a business letter. The group is so appreciative they buy Mason a typewriter. In the summer Mason and his brothers picked tobacco on a nearby farm with the white farmer's sons. In the evenings Mason taught himself to type on his typewriter. At the end of that summer the boys' father announces that they will no longer take the school bus to the further school for black children, but will get on the bus for the white children. The first couple of days the white children's bus slowed down but did not stop for the boys. When there father made a call, the next day it stopped. Mason stopped to say hi to the boys they worked with over the summer, and did not get much back in return. Mason was very excited to take typing at the school even if the school was not welcoming and no one really talked to him. The typing teacher did not talk to him, but he paid attention to her teachings and how she helped other students. One day there was a Neighborhood Youth Corps sponsoring after school jobs. He got one in the school library. The librarian asked what he could do and he said type. She was surprised at how fast he could type--even faster than the typing teacher. The typing teacher became a bit more friendly with Mason since he took away her library work. One day there was a typing contest and the winner at the school's contest would go on to a county tournament. Mason won the school's contest. Since they already had several issues with the Board of Education due to the treatment of Mason and his brothers the school felt they had to let him represent them.  The principal and typing teacher took Mason to the contest, but did not speak to him. At the contest he was the only black contestant. He was allowed to pick a typewriter to work on either electric or manual. He chose the manual one like his at home. All the other kids chose the new electric ones. Mason won this contest. When his name was announced no one cheered and no one applauded when the principal accepted the plaque for the school. When the principal asked on the way home why Mason picked the manual typewriter, he replied, "It reminds me of where I come from." 

I was fascinated by this tale since segregation was already declared illegal, but was still being practiced. When Mason's father pushed the issue his boys got to go to the school but dealt with much prejudice. Yet it is a wonderful story of success. Plus it brings a history of the typewriter, which so many children will not know anything about. I am sure there are stories like this throughout the country of the families who forced the schools to desegregate and the children who dealt with the issues of that. So to all those people, we honor you today. I hope each and every one of you passes your story on so more people will know it.