Brown versus the Board of Education, the historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring segregated schools unconstitutional, occurred 50 years ago this month, on May 17, 1954. To celebrate this pivotal milestone, Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has gathered archival photographs depicting the events surrounding school integration and created a unique book for young people titled Remember: The Journey to School Integration. Remember puts history in context for a new generation of readers through photographs of segregated schools, newspaper headlines announcing the Supreme Court decision and scenes of protests. Morrison has interlaced fictional text with some of the visuals in order to suggest the emotions of the children and adults who participated in this tumultuous era of change. Morrison explains her intentions in an author's note, saying, "I have imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs chosen to help tell this story. They are children, teenagers, adults: ordinary people leading ordinary lives all swept up in events that would mark all of our lives."Perhaps just as fascinating as Morrison's narratives are the extensive photo notes at the end of the book, which provide a place, date and description of the amazing documentary photographs included in the book. The notes provide historical background that will help extend and enrich a child's experience of the struggle to integrate American schools. Also included is a page of milestones in civil rights and school integration history, which provides highlights of events from 1896 through November 1999, when the Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Remember is dedicated to the four young girls who died in the bombing of their Birmingham church on September 15, 1963. The final photograph in the book shows two girls, one white, one black, holding hands. Morrison's text reads, "Anything can happen. Anything at all. See?"