Review of Choosing Brave, by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington

Choosing Brave

How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

by Angela Joy
illustrated by Janelle Washington

Roaring Brook Press, 2022. 64 pages.
Review written October 24, 2022, from a library book.
Starred Review

This powerful picture book biography tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett Till’s mother, and how she made hard choices so that the world would know about the terrible injustice that happened when her son was killed.

But that wasn’t the first hard choice she made. She faced bullying at school, though she graduated at the top of her class. Emmett’s father left her when Emmett was a baby, so she was a single mother. Polio left Emmett with a stutter, but she helped him and taught him to whistle to get through the stutter. That may have been why he ended up being accused of wolf whistling at a white woman. And murdered for it.

After Emmett’s death, Mamie paid a year’s wages to bring him north and used a glass-topped coffin to show the world what had been done to him.

Her brave choices helped start the Civil Rights movement, and even after Emmett’s murderers went free, she kept going to rallies, calling for justice.

Here’s how the book ends (before eight pages of notes at the back):

Yet still today, we whisper her name.

For lessons unlearned and hatred still living,
we whisper her name.
For strength to sow love in spite of our pain,
we utter her name.
For every son and every daughter who suffers still,
we cry her name.
For justice. For peace.
We shout her name.

A powerful and moving story, told in simple language and striking images.

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