Book And Audiobook Review: Sit-In

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Although there are a large number of books being written for children that address questions of social and political importance in our period [1], this book manages to be distinctive in that it seeks to speak highly metaphorically, in the language of eating and studying, about the nonviolent social protest in a Greensboro Woolworth’s restaurant initiated on February 1, 1960 by four black college students from North Carolina A&T, a historically black college. It is unclear whether the book’s vivid language discussing the specific nature of the food they ordered while they waited in vain, a donut and coffee with cream on the side, or the fact that they wore their best clothes, or the fact that they suffered various indignities from hostile fellow customers, or the fact that the author describes segregation and integration as tests in school or a dish with a specific recipe (provided helpfully in the book) make the book easier to understand or merely too casual. Nevertheless, the result is very striking.

The book itself is very straightforward. The book and audiobook cover the same material, which takes about twenty minutes or so to read on cd, and only two or three dozen pages on paper. The book is read in a sassy sort of manner, while the book itself contains drawings in bright colors, similar to what one would find on a building in, say, St. Vincent or the Turks & Caicos [2], but with very sloppy and indistinct line work, seeming almost casual and tossed off, which is in marked contrast to the immense calculation of the text. It must be pointed out how calculated the text is—the book places its straightforward and colorful narrative in the context of a hagiography for Martin Luther King, and seeks to downplay the socialist and even Communist nature of various coordinating committees that were set up to direct the nonviolent protest of these college students, which gives an unpleasant aftertaste to the accurate understanding that nonviolent protest was the way in which blacks seeking racial justice could appeal to whites who similarly desired to treat blacks justly but would not countenance violent social revolution, an audience that would include people like me.

The strongest area of this book is its chronology, in that it points out with its close attention to timing [3] that it was the blacks who were driving the bus when it came to integration, and that the support of people like JFK came later, months and years later, after the initial efforts from within the black community itself. It is here where one wishes that the author were more forthcoming about the larger political context in which the blacks were themselves pawns in a geopolitical fight in which Communist Russia sought to support the aims of blacks to be treated with justice and equity as a way of weakening the United States, despite their own even worse record of treating ethnic and cultural minorities in their own charnelhouse of the Soviet Union. Thankfully, treating others with justice and honor does not weaken a nation, but instead strengthens it. Nevertheless, the book’s unsettling casual language and its clear downplaying of religion and politics in order to play up a multicultural ideal do disservice to the aims of truth, making this book less beneficial in educating children than it would have been had it been more honest.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book And Audiobook Review: Sit-In

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The United States Of Lego | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Antifa Handbook | Edge Induced Cohesion

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