illustrated close-up of Kenny Watson with fire in the background behind him

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis
Start Free Trial

How do you think the story line in The Watsons go to Birmingham—1963 relates to current social justice movements?

The story line in The Watsons go to Birmingham—1963 is relevant to current social justice movements in that the Black community is still fighting for equity and there is still a lot of racialized violence and discrimination in the United States.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Christopher Paul Curtis's book The Watsons Go to Birmingham takes place in 1963, at the beginning of the African American civil rights movement in the United States. The Watson children learn about racial prejudice and confusing acts of racial violence, like the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Christopher Paul Curtis's book The Watsons Go to Birmingham takes place in 1963, at the beginning of the African American civil rights movement in the United States. The Watson children learn about racial prejudice and confusing acts of racial violence, like the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Unfortunately, this storyline is quite relevant to current social issues, since the Black community is still fighting for racial equity today in 2021. The African American civil rights movement did bring critical attention to systemic racism in US society and succeeded in outlawing racial segregation, but systemic racism and racialized violence are still very real problems. Consider current social issues like police brutality toward Black people and disparities in incarceration rates, healthcare, and housing between white and Black communities. All of these injustices show how the US still has far to go on the path toward true racial equity. Byron alludes to many of these issues after the bombing when he says to Kenny,

Kenny, things ain't ever going to be fair. How's it fair that two grown men could hate Negroes so much that they'd kill some kids just to stop them from going to school? How's it fair that even though the cops down there might know who did it nothing will probably ever happen to those men? It ain't. But you just gotta understand that that's the way it is and keep on steppin'.

Here, Byron mentions issues of race-based violence and racial inequality in the criminal justice system. Note how he mentions that the people who did it probably won't get punished. Sadly, this is still a real problem today. For example, consider how many white cops who are violent toward Black people do not get punished. Also, recall how the Black Lives Matter movement is still fighting to prove that Black lives are worth the same as white people's lives. The fact that this is still necessary today proves that the social issues Curtis explores in this book are still relevant today.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on