Parents' Guide to

The Legacy of Jim Crow

By Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Illuminating intro to historical roots of U.S. racism.

The Legacy of Jim Crow book cover

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As a compelling introduction to the concept of systemic racism and the painful history of racial oppression, this book succeeds with flying colors. Middle grade readers have likely heard about the history of slavery and Jim Crow in school, at home, and in other forms of media, but they may not have been exposed to the very real connections between past injustices and present inequities. Author Clarence A. Haynes does a good job of pairing the darker tragedies of this history with more uplifting profiles of Black creatives and civil rights leaders, offering students a model for how to grapple with tough issues without losing hope.

The broad range of topics the author tries to cover means that some of the details and nuances of complicated policies and events get lost or muddled, but The Legacy of Jim Crow includes good recommendations for further reading for interested students. Parents, students, and teachers shouldn't expect a detailed historical account of the Jim Crow era, but they can expect an honest, insightful, and intellectually stimulating overview of how the history of slavery and racial oppression, as Haynes says, "shaped the United States to this day."

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