Reviewed by Deborah Menkart
Author: Barbara Wright
With voter disenfranchisement in the news today, here is a historical novel about the brutal repression of African-American voters that brought an end to the short-lived Reconstruction era.
Shining a light on the seldom-told story of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, Wright creates the character of 5th grader Moses Thomas, whose father is an alderman and a reporter for the Wilmington Daily Record, the only African American paper in the South.
Through young Thomas’ adventures and his conversations with his grandmother, who lived for decades in slavery, readers learn about day-to-day life in the black community. The tension mounts as signs increase of the white supremacist Red Shirts’ plans to use violence to prevent blacks from voting and to shut down the paper. The book includes many real people and events.
Crow by Barbara Wright
Published by Random House on 2012
Genres: African American, Historical Fiction, Racism, U.S. History
Reading Level: Grades 6-8
Review Source: Rethinking Schools
Buy at Powell's Books
Publisher's synopsis: The summer of 1898 is filled with ups and downs for 11-year-old Moses. He's growing apart from his best friend, his superstitious Boo-Nanny butts heads constantly with his pragmatic, educated father, and his mother is reeling from the discovery of a family secret. Yet there are good times, too. He's teaching his grandmother how to read. For the first time she's sharing stories about being enslaved. And his father and his friends are finally getting the respect and positions of power they've earned in the Wilmington, North Carolina, community. But not everyone is happy with the political changes at play and some will do anything, including a violent plot against the government, to maintain the status quo. One generation away from slavery, a thriving African American community—enfranchised and emancipated—suddenly and violently loses its freedom in turn of the century North Carolina when a group of local politicians stages the only successful coup d'etat in US history.