Each generation is responsible for keeping alive important stories that can inform and shape the next generation. The children’s book, Mr. Tuck and the 13 Heroes: A True Story does just that.
It is the account of a 13 African-American students in Henry County, Ga., south of Atlanta, who integrated the school system there by court order during the struggle for civil rights. They were welcomed and protected by a white principal who put justice ahead of personal concerns.
It is both a warm story and a needed reminder of a time when fear and prejudice often trumped love and acceptance. The story is told by John Harris and illustrated by Sophie Harris.
Our tendency is to protect children — and often obscure our own failures — from the ugliness of history. But children as well as their parents and grandparents need to know the importance in choosing courage, truth and liberty when the majority embraces easier and uglier options.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley called it “a tender children’s book about a difficult time in education.”
Allison Gilmore, an education professor at Mercer University who recalled hearing the story directly from Principal Brooks Tuck many years ago, affirmed the authenticity of his “humble heroism.”
Albany State University professor Florence Lyons urged children and parents to read the book, “Unless we have effective and positive models for interracial relationships in our literature, we cannot make substantive progress in the conversation on race.”
The book is available from Regeneration Writers Press.