Reading into History Author Interview: Cynthia Levinson on We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

CYL Photo for Website-tiffYoung people have often played significant roles in history, often willing and able to take a stand when adults can’t or won’t. This month, when we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy, the Reading into History Family Book Club is reading We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson,  about the efforts made by children to end segregation during the Civil Rights Movement. The book follows the stories of four such young people and was extensively researched. Their stories are incredible.

In preparation for our meeting on February 2nd when we will skype with Ms. Levinson, we asked her out five author questions. Read on and join us on Sunday, February 2nd  to discuss the book!

DiMenna Children’s History Museum: What is your favorite time period in American history? Why?

Cynthia Levinson: I have two different kinds of favorite periods. One is the time that’s my favorite to live in. And, the other is my favorite time period to study.

My favorite time to live in is now because, even though our country has lots of serious problems that need to be solved, I’m confident that we can do it. Actually, I’m confident that YOU can do it because young people today are bright and well educated and caring.

OK, I fibbed. I don’t have a favorite time to study. I love learning about all of American History, even when I don’t like what I”m learning, such as about segregation in Birmingham. But, it’s important to know about all of our past.

DCHM: What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?

CL: I was a total doofus. I had practically no idea how to get along with other kids. I wished I were taller. And, I always forgot the punch line when I got to the end of the joke.

DCHM: What is your favorite place in New York?

CL: Oh, gee. Just one? OK, OK. I’ll pick Central Park because it’s a contradictory. It’s an oasis in the middle of Manhattan but, at the same, time it draws all kinds of people from all over the place who do all different kinds of things there. Central Park is both separate from and very much a part of New York.

wgaj_coverDCHM: What made you want to write We’ve Got a Job?

CL: Embarrassment. Even though I had seen the events on the news and later studied them in college, I was mortified that I’d never learned that the people who were marching and get hosed and bitten in Birmingham were children. When I discovered that many other (white) people didn’t know that either, I knew I had to write a book.

DCHM: What three words best describe We’ve Got a Job?

CL: I’m going to turn this question around and ask you which three words you think best describe the book. My words don’t matter. It’s readers’ reactions that count.

The Reading into History family book club is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post and/or in Reading into History programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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