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Round & Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement    by Amy Nathan order for
Round & Round Together
by Amy Nathan
Order:  USA  Can
Paul Dry Books, 2011 (2011)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Award-winning author Amy Nathan lays a meticulously-researched platform of how, what, and who were the catalysts at work to bring changes to segregation/integration. The author centers her material on the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, Baltimore, MD, which did not allow blacks into the park while the Jim Crow laws were in effect (since before the Civil War in many parts of the United States). Tactics, methods, and actions are highlighted over a span of years that preceded the change to the Amusement Park's whites only restriction.

On August 28, 1963, while Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech in Washington, D.C. to a gathering of thousands, forty miles away in Baltimore eleven-month-old Sharon Langley also made history as the first black child to ride the merry-go-round/carousel in Gwynn Oak. The family-owned Park began its history in 1894 as a Trolley Park and was eventually destroyed by a hurricane. However, the carousel now resides on Washington's National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex. Children of all ages and ethnicities ride the wonder round and round together.

For decades after the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, freed blacks met with intense abuse and harshness in all areas of life, including education, employment opportunities, housing, and admission to restaurants, stores and hotels. Organizations that took up the cause of civil rights over time include the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People); CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) founded by a group of university students in 1942 Chicago; the City-Wide Young People's Forum; the Civic Interest Group (Morgan State College); Students for a Democratic Society; and the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committees).

Over the years protestors followed Mohandas Gandhi's non-violent approach. Tactics included sit-ins; picket lines; boycotts - Don't Buy Where You Can't Work; an annual All Nations Day Festival held at the Gwynn Oak Park; and purposeful mass arrests with a jail-no bail motto, that filled the jailhouses to overflowing. Among black and white activists were people from every walk of life, including high school and college students, priests, rabbis, and ministers along with their parishioners. They aimed for vast media coverage. Charles Farmer, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Thurgood Marshall (in 1967 the first African-American Supreme Court Justice), Theodore McKeldin (mayor of Baltimore), and Professor James Coleman are only a few of the individuals who participated.

Under Telling The Tale the author writes: 'This book tells the tale of the nearly decade-long struggle to liberate that once whites-only merry-go-round, weaving its story into that of the civil rights movement as a whole to show how demonstrations occurring elsewhere influenced the Gwynn Oak protestors.' James Farmer's quotation from his autobiography of 1985 is profound: 'Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.' Arthur Waskow from Washington's Peace Research Institute, later wrote: 'I realized how absurd it was to celebrate a revolution for liberty by reading about it, instead of joining in.'

Amy Nathan's many other publications include Count on Us: American Women in the Military, Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II, Take a Seat - Make a Stand, and Everything You Need to Know About Conflict Resolution. Round & Round Together is very comprehensive and is suitable beyond the targeted age range. The author's dedication alone put a lump in my throat: 'To all who had the courage to stand up and speak out.'

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