The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

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Did Jane Pittman sip water from an all-white water fountain?

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In The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, the story of the titular character is told as she lives through slavery in the 1800s and the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. The story is considered historical fiction, as the character of Jane Pittman is not an actual person, but the events in and surrounding her life were indicative of events happening in the lives of others at that time.

The final chapter of the book involves a young black girl being arrested in the early 1960s for drinking from an all-white water fountain in an act of civil disobedience. After the organizer of a protest is shot dead, the 110-year-old Jane Pittman takes the lead and proceeds to travel to the water fountain and take a sip in defiance of the city officials and police officers who watch.

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