379: Turn Away Thy Son by Elizabeth Jacoway

by Gerard


379.2630976773: Jacoway, Elizabeth. Turn Away Thy Son: Little Rock, the Crisis that Shocked the Nation. New York: Free Press, 2007. 362 pp. ISBN 978-0-7432-9719-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 370: Education
  • 379: Public policy issues in education
  • 379.2: Specific polcy issues in public education
  • 379.26: Educational equalization
  • 379.263: School desegregation
  • +0976773: Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States

In September 1957, nine students attended their first day at Little Rock Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. Normally, this wouldn’t have made for national news, but these nine students were African-American and they were the first ones to ever attend this school. They were surrounded by a military escort and news cameras. Elizabeth Jacoway’s Turn Away Thy Son is an in-depth look at the political and social atmosphere that pervaded the decision to desegregate Arkansas schools.

Jacoway’s tries to get as comprehensive a picture of the struggle at Little Rock Central High as possible, including a look into the lives of the Little Rock Nine today. The story of filled with politics, social rhetoric, and heartache. From our modern perspective, it seems almost unheard of that just sixty years ago students were railed against for the color of their skin. From the Brown v. Board Education decision in 1954 to superintendent Virgil Blossom’s careful plan to desegregate Arkansas schools to that fateful day in 1957, we get an enthralling picture of Civil Rights-era America.

At times, this book is a little hard to read. Some of the stories of outright racism, bullying, and political grandstanding make one cringe at just how hurtful people can be. The account of the Little Rock Nine is immensely important, if for the only reason that we are perpetually cautioned against its recurrence. Jacoway’s writing is fluid, filled with detail, and well-researched. An excellent read.