To the Mountaintop by Charlayne Hunter-Gault

To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement by Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Carole Boston Weatherford, the author of numerous poems and stories about American history, says after she shares poems and stories based on historical incidents with students, they often ask, “Did that really happen?”

Weatherford says she uses archival photos and documents to help make history real for them. Hunter-Gault  does the same thing in this book.

The book is organized by years, 1959-1965, and Hunter-Gault couches her experiences during this period within accounts of the struggle for civil rights throughout the country. For example, the Greensboro sit-in began a few months into Hunter's attendance at Wayne State University, after she, along with  Hamilton Holmes, was denied admission to the University of Georgia.

At nineteen, she left Wayne State for the University of Georgia after a judge ruled that she and Hamilton could begin classes. This was the first time Georgia allowed desegregation at a school at any level.

*Hunter supported the movement via her work on the Atlanta Inquirer

The book includes an informative timeline. 

The New York Times articles throughout the book are often cut off in the main text, but don’t worry, the full text is in the back. The articles are so interesting, you will find yourself thumbing to the back to get the whole story.

This is a photo of Mrs. Evers comforting
 her son at Medgar Evers' furneral.
The photos were carefully selected, and the captions are written well enough to tell a story of their own.

The title of the book comes from one of Dr. King’s speeches, but as I read further, I saw mountaintops as a symbol not only of freedom, but of accomplishment, courage, and even obstacles and struggle. There is the theme that we conquer our mountaintops because we are standing on the shoulders of those who sacrificed on our behalf.

A gem of the book is the picture of Hunter-Gault at Obama’s inauguration.

I was touched when she talks about walking away from the crowd at times because she became emotional thinking about those who didn’t live  (some due to natural causes and some due to death by hate related violence) to see Obama take office.
I bet the genuineness in this one section alone will help students who question the validity of these stories.

I get to teach students in different content areas next semester, and I know I’m going to share this title with them. 

*Hunter-Gault became a noted journalist.