Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights
Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights
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Annotation: In 1854, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation.
Genre: [Biographies]
Catalog Number: #206635
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: c2020
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-629-79939-4 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7266-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-629-79939-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7266-2
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2019939439
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
On July 16, 1854, -Lizzie Jenkins was in a hurry. A big hurry. The kind of hurry she couldn-t hold back.- When a New York streetcar conductor tries to stop her from entering a car reserved for whites, she protests. -Despite being born a -free black- in a -free state,- she-d never been treated as equal... Suddenly, late-for-church wasn-t as important as late-for-equality.- When Jenkins is thrown off the streetcar, shown in a dramatic spread, a white witness steps forward, and Jenkins decides to take her case to court-a risk: -if she failed to win, she could make it worse.- But Jenkins, supported by her community, does win, notching the first victory in what would become a 100-year-long battle to end segregation on public transportation. Shimmering jewel-toned watercolors blur and delineate details in Lewis-s paintings. Includes an author-s note, bibliography, and reading suggestions. Ages 7-10. (Jan.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 1-3 In 1854, when Lizzie Jennings was forced off a traditionally "whites only" streetcar, she went to court, winning the right for all black passengers to ride in the same car with white people on the Third Avenue Railroad in New York City. Anderson's account of Jennings's early civil rights triumph stresses the teacher and choir director's determination. An afterword explains how this free, educated, and wealthy black woman was uniquely positioned to succeed where an earlier court case had failed, and how the fight continued for 10 more years before all New York street car companies stopped having separate cars for black and white passengers. Set on spreads with full-bleed illustrations, the storytelling is straightforward and direct. Dialogue closely follows contemporary newspaper accounts to enliven the historical moment. The well-chosen language"She'd been rejected, restricted, and refused by schools, restaurants, and theaters"is a pleasure to read aloud. Departing from the somber palette he used for Jabari Asim's Preaching to the Chickens, Lewis employs pastel colors, shades of blues, pinks, and purples, and plenty of background yellow to portray the characters and their surroundings. This lightens the story and supports its positive outcome. Shadowy background figures remind careful readers of the larger community that supported Jennings and were affected. Pair with Nikki Giovanni's Rosa Parks for a reminder of how long this struggle continued. VERDICT An important story beautifully told. Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In 1854, a young Black church organist named Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings boarded a horse-drawn streetcar in New York City. The conductor objected, insisting that she wait for another streetcar, one displaying a "Colored People Allowed" sign. As a crowd of pedestrians gathered, he relented, delivering a stern warning. When Jennings objected to his rudeness, he dragged her across the platform and dropped her to the curb. She boarded the car again, but the conductor hailed a police officer, who forced her off. A passenger gave Jennings his card, offering to be a witness in court. Though similar legal cases had failed, Jennings sued the streetcar company and won the case, inspiring some of her contemporaries to stand up for their rights as well. An informative author's note describes Jennings' family background in the abolitionist movement, her court case, and her place in civil-rights history. Anderson's vivid, well-researched narrative includes dialogue that "closely follows" accounts of Jennings' experience that appeared in newspapers at the time. Using brighter hues than his usual palette, Lewis creates a series of vibrant, expressive watercolor paintings that transports viewers back in time, while portraying characters as distinct individuals. A memorable picture book introducing a nineteenth-century defender of civil rights.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (12/1/19)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal Starred Review (2/1/20)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 1,249
Reading Level: 3.7
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.7 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 507860 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: AD570L

• A NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book
• An ILA Children's Book Award Nonfiction Honor
• Winner of Bank Street College of Education's Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for excellence in nonfiction
• A Chicago Public Library Best Informational Book for Older Readers
• Shortlist for inaugural Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice 
• Finalist, Jane Addams Children’s Book Award

In 1854, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation.

One hundred years before Rosa Parks took her stand, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings tried to board a streetcar in New York City on her way to church. Though there were plenty of empty seats, she was denied entry, assaulted, and threatened all because of her race--even though New York was a free state at that time. Lizzie decided to fight back. She told her story, took her case to court--where future president Chester Arthur represented her--and won! Her victory was the first recorded in the fight for equal rights on public transportation, and Lizzie's case set a precedent. Author Beth Anderson and acclaimed illustrator E. B. Lewis bring this inspiring, little-known story to life in this captivating book.

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