Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freedom Train - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 41

As part of Sophia's curriculum this year, she read aloud to me Freedom Train by Evelyn Coleman. This is an interesting 148-page book based upon the real journey of the Freedom Train during the 1940s.

The inspirational story centers on a young boy's awareness of the injustices around him, and how things can change for the better.

There's another book that has the same title, but it is about Harriet Tubman. In retrospect, that probably was the book that she should have read given that she is learning about American History and she's in the 1800s right now.

That being said, Freedom Train provided a look at segregation, racism, discrimination (racial as well as class/financial) and its effect on individuals, families, and communities. It provoked some good questions by Sophia about these topics; and gave me an opportunity about how I saw and/or experienced these things in my own life.

The book also gave me opportunity to share some stories that I had heard from my parents who grew up during a time when segregation still existed the Ku Klux Klan was active (my father had some very scary memories of seeing crosses burning on neighbors' lawns during the night).

The actual Freedom Train operated from 1947-1949 and made its way throughout the United States. It would stop only at cities where the mayors agreed to have only one line for those waiting to see the train. Rather than having two separate lines which, unfortunately, was common at that time, they were required to have a single line for everyone.

According to the Freedom Train website, "The Freedom Train was temporary home to America's most precious documents and other unique treasures, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, one of the 13 original copies of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Iwo Jima flag, the German and Japanese surrender documents that ended World War II, and much more."

The website continued, "Among the 127 documents and six historical flags on board, the Freedom Train held dozens of treasures that were the earliest inspirations for the American experience. Some of these were from a distant and oppressive age, when there was little precedent for the rights of ordinary people."

At the end of the Freedom Train, there are several photographs of the Marines, porters, and line of people waiting to see the documents on the train. 

(This was also read as part of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.)

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