Fearless Freedom


Activists in the civil rights movement put their lives on the line for their cause. What would make you risk beatings, dog bites, and imprisonment? The way Bernice felt when she had to ride on segregated buses or drink at “colored only” water fountains, and her admiration for leaders like Martin Luther King and Gandhi were a few of her  reasons for joining the Children’s Crusade.

Some kids joined because their parents, big brothers, and sisters were in the movement. Some were inspired after attending a mass meeting, and others were angered to join after witnessing marchers brutalized by the police. Some kids got involved because it was the “in thing” to do.

To learn why four different young people from ages nine to sixteen marched in the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, check out the books, Freedom’s Children, by Ellen Levine, and We’ve Got A Job, by Cynthia Levinson. Visit her website at: www.cynthialevinson.com.

Also, check out the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute at: www.bcri.org.

Activism Today

Do you think the type of injustice that Bernice faced only happened in the past? Hate crimes, bullying, human rights violations, homelessness, and poverty are just some of the problems we face today. In 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, kids took to the streets to fight against injustice. Kids today log onto the internet to make a difference. To learn about what you can do to help, visit www.dosomething.org.

Freedom Songs

Freedom songs were the soundtrack of the civil rights movement, inspiring protesters and giving them courage as they battled injustice. African American women strikers against a tobacco company in Charleston, South Carolina, were the first to use We Shall Overcome as a protest song in 1946. Although no one is certain when or where the song originated, it has its roots in the African American church.

We Shall Overcome became the anthem of the civil rights movement in the US and has been embraced by activists across the globe, from Northern Ireland to South Africa.

To learn more about freedom songs visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/soundtrack/.


In Fearless Freedom, Betsy Thornton attended the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Perkins, established in 1832, was the first school for visually impaired students in the United States and continues to educate visually impaired, blind, and deaf blind students with or without other disabilities from birth to age 22.

Betsy read with Braille, a writing system that uses raised dots to spell out words to the touch. Today, visually impaired students use computer software such as Zoom Text to magnify text and graphics and JAWS, software that speaks. There are talking phones, and tablets, and all sorts of technology to help visually impaired people.

To learn more about the Perkins School for the Blind visit their website at: www.perkins.org.

Learn more about people with disabilities at: www.dosomething.org.