Fortress Press

A Child Shall Lead Them: Martin Luther King Jr., Young People, and the Movement

A Child Shall Lead Them

Martin Luther King Jr., Young People, and the Movement

Rufus Burrow Jr. (Author)


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Half a century after some of its most important moments, the assessment of the Civil Rights Era continues. In this exciting volume, Dr. Rufus Burrow turns his attention to a less investigated but critically important byway in this powerful story—the role of children and young people in the Civil Rights Movement.
What role did young people play, and how did they support the efforts of their elders? What did they see—and what did they do?—that their elders were unable to envision? How did children play their part in the liberation of their people?
In this project, Burrow reveals the surprising power of youth to change the world.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451484540
  • eBook ISBN 9781451487626
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 150
  • Publication Date August 1, 2014


1. Montgomery: Just to See Empty Bus, after Empty Bus Go By
2. Sitting-in and Riding for Freedom
3. Birmingham and the Children’s Crusade
4. Mississippi: Made to Disappear
5. Selma: What We Talk about Has Also to Do with the Children
6. Who Will Carry the Freedom Struggle Forward?


"The voices of African American children, youth, and young adults who refused to be paralyzed by the threat of imminent violence during the Civil Rights Movement are heard in this book. . . . Burrow poignantly describes the 'growing, deepening sense of their humanity and dignity' as the children, youth, and young adults endured the trials and tribulations of the Civil Rights Movement with a grateful Martin Luther King Jr."
—Katherine (Kaybeth) Calabria
Franciscan University of Steubenville
"Rufus Burrow Jr. has delivered a definitive volume on the contributions made by young people in the fight for civil and voting rights during the 1960s. . . . This prophetic work provides a graphic account of both the violence the freedom fighters endured and the power of their love ethic to defeat systemic injustice. This book is a must read, especially for young people of all races who choose to oppose social evil, fight for justice, and refuse to take 'no' for an answer."
—Timothy Knight
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
"Rufus Burrow Jr. offers a powerful antidote to the misconception that Martin Luther King Jr. and his faith-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were out of step with young civil rights activists. Through his use of youth testimony and King’s own writings, Burrow offers a fresh lens through which to view key actions in Montgomery, Nashville, Birmingham, Mississippi, and Selma. Inclusion of too often-neglected young women leaders contributes greatly to the power of this work."
—Maria Gitin
Author of This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight 


Reviewed in Plough Quarterly