Memphis, Martin and The Mountain Top is a powerful story of the civil rights movement in America just in time for Black History Month by author Alice Faye Duncan.

Author Alice Faye Duncan


It tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s historic speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3rd, 1968. This speech was a call to action for all Americans to stand up for justice and equality. It was a pivotal moment in history that changed the course of civil rights forever. Through this story, we can learn about the courage and determination of those who fought for justice and equality during this time period, such as Dr. King Jr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King and countless others who risked their lives to make a difference in this country.

Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968

Basing her story on the true accounts of Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, Duncan creates 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson to tell the full story of the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. The story begins not with the entrance of Martin Luther King, who would arrive in March, but in January, when the tragic deaths of two black garbagemen due to old, malfunctioning equipment added to calls for change. The author’s choice to not focus on the singular efforts of King but on the dedicated efforts of community signals a deeply important lesson for young readers. Strong historical details back up the organizing feat: “In the morning and afternoon, for sixty-five days, sanitation workers marched fourteen blocks through the streets of downtown Memphis.” The narrative is set in vignettes that jump between verse and prose, set against Christie’s bold paintings. Lorraine learns that “Dreamers never quit” after reminiscing on what would be Dr. King’s final lecture, delivered on April 3. The struggle doesn’t end with King’s death but continues with the spotlight cast by Coretta Scott King on the sanitation workers’ demands. “Freedom is never free,” Lorraine notes before closing with the thought that it remains our mission to “Climb up the MOUNTAINTOP!”

Facebook Comments