Audrey Faye Hendricks is not a name that most children or adults know. Yet, this nine-year-old was the youngest protester in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March.
Dr. Martin Luther King was a friend of the Hendricks family. When he visited their home, he and other civil rights leaders discussed what could be done to right the injustices faced by black people. Audrey knew all about which water fountain to drink from, or where to sit on a bus, or which elevator to take in a store.
When King asked adults to fill the jails of Birmingham in protest against discriminatory practices, adults feared what would happen to them. When he realized that adults wouldn’t act, then he called upon children. He was met with an overwhelming response. Nine-year-old Audrey was going to protest. Arrested almost immediately, Audrey was sentenced to a week in juvenile hall.
“The Youngest Marcher” by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton is the well-told story of this brave young girl. Readers ages 5-10 will learn about conditions faced by black people in the 1960s as well as reading Audrey’s story. The illustrations help explain the text and add drama and impact to the story.
The author’s note and a time line will add to the reader’s understanding of what Audrey and her fellow civil rights activists endured during this turbulent time in American history.