In this third collaboration (Candlewick, 9/06) with illustrator Shane W. Evans, Martin Luther King biographer Doreen Rappaport shines a light on many other African-Americans whose sacrifices helped bring about shamefully past-due social progress in the 1950s and 1960s. As with the trilogy’s preceding titles, which focused on the eras of slavery and emancipation, Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round combines Rappaport’s quiltwork of quotations, topical songs, and original prose with Evans’ bruisingly passionate paintings.
From the description and depiction of Emmett Till’s body, to the image of doomed civil rights workers as viewed through rifle scopes, to Rappaport’s unflinching use of “the ugliest of all words,” this book’s approach is a blunt one. While the narrative ends with the triumph of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the tone is anything but triumphant. There’s still more justice to be done, but as the epilogue makes reassuringly clear, many of the players from 40 and 50 years ago are still out there doing it.