Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings


I received the paperback edition of Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings for FREE through the Goodreads Giveaways program.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings.

Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings is written for kids/teens ages 12 - 15 and covers the politics of the Civil Rights Era. I love everything about this book and feel that its content makes for the perfect introductory book for young readers wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Era. Even as an adult, I learned a lot by reading Ms. Cummings book. 

Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings is both well written and well organized. There is an introduction to the topic of the Civil Rights Era, plus five chapters pertaining to specific topics that are important touchstones to the Civil Rights Era.... Chapter 1 covers the politics of school desegregation, Chapter 2 covers the politics of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Chapter 3 covers the politics of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Chapter 4 covers the politics of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and Chapter 5 covers the politics of resentment. 

Each chapter offers bite sized chunks of information, a timeline for events, fast facts, vocabulary, a project at the end of each chapter to help gain more understanding and so much more. At the end of Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings there is a glossary for important terms and an excellent resource section for further reading.

As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, I learned a few new to me things through reading Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings. One of the biggest things I learned through reading chapter one, was about the life of Sylvia Mendez and her pivotal role in the Mendez v. Westminster case, which allowed her to eventually attend an all white school instead of an all Mexican school. Through reading chapter one and doing a little more online research, I discovered that California became the first state in the nation to desegregate schools because of the 1946 Mendez. v. Westminster case!! The Mendez v. Westminster case occurred eight years before the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education case. The Mendez v. Westminster case actually helped lay the foundation/ground work for Brown v. the Board of Education. Sylvia Mendez was eventually awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

As an additional side note,
 "Thurgood Marshall, who was later appointed a Supreme Court justice in 1967, became the lead NAACP attorney in the 1954 Brown case. His amicus brief filed for Mendez on behalf of the NAACP contained the arguments he would later use in the Brown case. The Mendez case also deeply influenced the thinking of the California governor at the time, Earl Warren. By 1954, when the Brown case appeared before the high court, Warren had become the chief justice." (Source Wikipedia)

In chapter 5 of Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings, 2020 Inequality Stats (page 97) were given as follows and these stats are dismal:

  • Young Black Men are 21 times more likely than young white men to be shot by police.
  • Blacks are imprisoned six times more often than whites.
  • Forty-two percent of Black children are educated in high poverty schools.
  • Black family income is two-thirds that of white families.
  • The Black unemployment rate is twice that of whites.
  • Only forty percent of African Americans own a home compared with seventy percent of whites. 
  • In 2019, there were only three African American members of the U. S. Senate and no black governors.

Below is a summary for Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings from Goodreads:

A deep dive into the politics of the civil rights era, including the passing of new laws and the presidential responses to protest. A terrific way for kids ages 12 to 15 to learn about the civil rights movement, both then and now! "We shall overcome" was the refrain of the civil rights movement, but overcoming centuries of discrimination was not easy. When the activism of civil rights protesters exposed the rampant racism embedded in America's politics for the world to see, political leaders in the federal government were forced to act. In Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era, students ages 12 to 15 explore the key legislative and judicial victories of the era that spanned from 1954 to the early 1970s. The successes of Brown v. the Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 were the results of African-American activism and a growing awareness of social justice and injustice. Marches, demonstrations, boycotts, and lawsuits prodded local and state governments to reveal the bigotry of their laws and the brutality of their oppression of black citizens. As racial tensions ripped the country apart, presidents from Eisenhower through Nixon worked to uphold the U.S. Constitution, sometimes willingly and sometimes reluctantly. As members of Congress debated and negotiated, change came slowly. School doors opened to blacks. Restaurants served blacks. Blacks were allowed to cast their ballots. But victory was incomplete and came at a price. In this book, hands-on projects and research activities alongside essential questions, links to online resources, and text-to-world connections promote a profound understanding of history and offer opportunities for social-emotional learning. Meets multiple standards for the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.

Incidences of racial discrimination and racial division are in the news frequently, and this book informs readers of how political change during the civil rights movement of 1954 to the early 1970s eliminated some racial discrimination, but was unable to remove all obstacles to equality.

Today's division between political parties impedes legislative progress on many issues, and this book explores how similar political divisions were overcome in the 1960s, resulting in the passage of key civil rights laws.

Uses an inquiry-based approach to encourage readers to explore the present status of civil rights for blacks in the United States.

Aligns with Common Core State Standards.

Projects include Mapping your school's degree of segregation, Deconstructing the photograph that moved John F. Kennedy to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Research today's voter suppression.

Additional materials include a glossary, a list of media for further learning, a selected bibliography, and index. 
About the Civil Rights Movement series and Nomad Press Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era is part of a new series from Nomad Press, The Civil Rights Era, that captures the passion and conviction of the 1950s and '60s. Other titles in this set include Boycotts, Strikes, and Marches: Protests of the Civil Rights Era; Sitting In, Standing Up: Leaders of the Civil Rights Era; and Singing for Equality: Musicians of the Civil Rights Era. Nomad Press books in The Civil Rights Era series integrate content with participation. Combining engaging narrative with inquiry-based projects stimulates learning and makes it active and alive. Nomad's unique approach simultaneously grounds kids in factual knowledge while allowing them the space to be curious, creative, and critical thinkers. All books are leveled for Guided Reading level and Lexile and align with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. All titles are available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats.

I am giving Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. I lived through that so-called "Civil Rights era" and it is discouraging to realize that, although some important strides have been made, so much still needs to change. Yes, systemic racism does exist in this country.

    1. Yes, it is very discouraging to realize that we haven't come far enough in making equality for all a reality. Yes, to making great strides forward during the Civil Rights Era, but the 2020 stats mentioned above attest to the fact that systemic racism still exists in a huge way.