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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 606

In Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr.

is planning a march on Washington, where

John F. Kennedy is president.

In Harlem, Malcolm X is standing on a soapbox

talking about a revolution.

The author, Jacqueline Woodson, was born on February 12, 1963. The quote above explains the significance of Woodson's...

(The entire section contains 606 words.)

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In Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr.

is planning a march on Washington, where

John F. Kennedy is president.

In Harlem, Malcolm X is standing on a soapbox

talking about a revolution.

The author, Jacqueline Woodson, was born on February 12, 1963. The quote above explains the significance of Woodson's birth date: she was born at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The mentions of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and President Kennedy are powerful reminders of our country's history.

President Kennedy died after he was assassinated on November 22, 1963. However, prior to his death, Kennedy was an avid supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. It was Kennedy who initially proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He did this in June. However, Kennedy died without seeing the fruits of his labors.

In August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I Have A Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Meanwhile, Malcolm X, an African American civil rights leader, made his "Message to the Grassroots" speech on November 13th, 1963 at the Detroit Council Leadership Conference. Weeks after the conference, President Kennedy was assassinated. Malcolm X himself was assassinated on February 21, 1965. So, Woodson was born at a time of turmoil and at the very height of the Civil Rights Movement.

My father's family

can trace their history back

to Thomas Woodson of Chillicothe, said to be

the first son

of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

some say

this isn't so but . . .

The above quote mentions an important historical figure, Thomas Woodson. Sally Hemings was said to have had six children with Thomas Jefferson. However, Thomas is not included in the list of legal children. Today, descendants of Thomas Woodson maintain that there is evidence for Thomas' connection to Hemings and Jefferson. They cite evidence from their family's strong oral history.

According to the history, Thomas was Sally's first child with Jefferson. Reports are that he was sent away from Monticello in his youth. Please refer to the link above for more discussions about Thomas Woodson.

In Brown Girl Dreaming, the mention of Thomas Woodson is significant. The author believes that Thomas was responsible for the success many members of her family have enjoyed. It was said that Thomas believed in high standards when he was alive. Today, the author is proud of the long line of Woodson "doctors and lawyers and teachers/ athletes and scholars and people in government," as she says,

The trainings take place in the basement of churches

and the back rooms of stores,

on long car trips and anywhere else where people can

gather. They learn

how to change the South without violence,

how to not be moved

by the evil actions of others, how to walk slowly but

with deliberate steps.

How to sit at counters and be cursed at

without cursing back, have food and drinks poured

over them without standing up and hurting someone.

This quote explains how African American citizens used non-violence to fight for equal rights. These citizens believed in the philosophy of non-violence, which was championed by civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

For more about non-violence as a means of bringing about change, read the Library of Congress' Nonviolent Philosophy and Self Defense.

Many of the sit-in protests (as described in the quote) were sponsored by three main organizations. They were the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In fact, the Congress of Racial Equality organized one of the first non-violent sit-ins in America in a Chicago coffee shop in 1943. Read more about civil rights and non-violence from PBS.

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