In this inspiring children’s picture book based on a true story, African American author Sharon Langley narrates how she was born in Baltimore near Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, which was desegregated soon after her birth. When young Sharon’s parents explain to her that in past years people like them weren’t welcome in the park, she doesn’t understand. Was it because they couldn’t afford tickets or because they lived too far away? Her parents explain the hard reality that it was because of their skin color.
In simple language, Sharon’s parents relate the series of events that led to the desegregation of the park—peaceful protests to assert the civil rights of African Americans, extensive publicity, and massive arrests—even as similar civil rights protests were happening throughout the South. They tell her the park was officially desegregated Aug. 28, 1963, and they were the first African American family to enter the park and ride the carousel.
Renowned illustrator Floyd Cooper’s emotionally stirring artwork captures the longing for freedom African Americans and their white supporters experienced, and it portrays the hatred of those who opposed them. His vigorous depictions of the high-stepping carousel horses practically leap from the page, stirring thoughts of freedom, joy, and purpose. They complement Sharon Langley’s masterful use of the carousel as a metaphor for equality between races: “I love carousels. The horses come in so many colors … . But no matter their colors, the horses all go at the same speed as they circle round and round. They start together. They finish together, too. Nobody is first and nobody is last. Everyone is equal when you ride a carousel.”
(Abrams Books for Young Readers)