Unstoppable: How Bayard Rustin Organized the 1963 March on Washington

little bee. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781499812060.
Gr 2-5–A picture book biography about Bayard Rustin, a Black peace and civil rights activist who helped plan the March on Washington. While providing a lot of historical context and information, the narrative elements are not as strong as some other picture book biographies. The illustrations are notable; realistic enough for historical figures to be recognizable with a stylized charm. The color palette is both retro and bright, giving the work a particular sense of place. Black subjects are beautifully illustrated across a variety of ages, weights, and skin tones. The book was based, in part, on interviews with Bayard’s partner Walter Naegle and shows some of the difficulties he faced as a Black, gay pacifist in the mid-20th century. Bayard is called a “troublemaker” in a positive way, and the book explores how being disruptive and loud can be heroic, especially in the context of pacifism and nonviolence. It also includes themes of background work, like organizing and cleanup, being just as important to success as more visible and celebrated roles.
VERDICT A strong choice for nonfiction collections serving older elementary students.

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