The Promise of Change


“The Promise of Change” by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy is a book written in the form of a poem and is about Jo Ann Allen’s experience as one of the “Clinton 12”. This is the name of the first group of African American students to be intergraded with white students at Clinton High School in Tennessee after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional in 1956. But just because the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional doesn’t mean that Clinton will make things easy for the Clinton 12. Protesters line up with pickets and signs protesting the Clinton 12’s first day of school and things aren’t going to get better soon. As the year progresses, instead of just being able to walk to school, they have to be driven by the Sheriff because of all the violence. At the climax of the book, Labor Day riots break out as white mobs terrorized African Americans that came through.  It got so violent that the National Guard had to be deployed after Labor Day weekend. When the Clinton 12 returned, the school was almost empty because parents were scared to send their kids to school. Then a brave white pastor named Paul Turner decided to walk the Clinton 12 to school. Everything goes smoothly until Paul Turner starts to walk back to his church. What happened? Read the book to find out.


I would rate this book a 10 out of 10 because it showed me how America wasn’t always a  “free country” but that it also had some dark past within the last century. This book would be great for a teacher to read to his/her students during black history month. It would be good for ages 11-100, the reason being there are some bad words and it’s a roller coaster of emotions going from sad and angry to happy and excited within a page. I also think that the book isn’t the best way to introduce segregation to younger students.  It’s a confusing concept to understand.  After reading this book I wanted to learn more. After browsing around I found out that Jo Ann Allen Boyce’s grandson is Cameron Boyce, an actor on Disney and has been in many movies and TV shows.