Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020.
“History is more than wars and violence.
In fact, history has often been forged through conflicts of a different sort, when huge numbers of people banded together to fight and sacrifice for their side, without ever joining a conventional army or resorting to violence. Incredible individuals—who were not politicians or generals—led these movements.”
–from the introduction of WE ARE POWER How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World
On considering classes to take in middle school or high school, had I read this introductory statement I would have jumped at the chance to take the history class that covered THIS history book. A class on striving for justice would have won out over a class on dates, battles, and wars–the feature of many high school history classes–any day of the week.
Today many, many students have experience with protest marches and rallies, and the injustices of the 21st century weigh heavily on the young. At the time of this writing Black Lives Matter marches are occurring daily across the US and the world, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Climate Strikes and March for Our Lives and other gun control rallies are recent enough events to continue to weigh on our minds and our hearts. In short, this is a great book to have in the world and a timely and high interest book for teens and preteens.
In WE ARE POWER How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World, Todd Hasak-Lowy presents the definition and ideology of nonviolent protest along with the history of nonviolent activism, tracing important movements in the 20th century: Gandhi’s work in South Africa and India, Alice Paul and her work with the Suffragettes in England and the US, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, César Chávez and the Farm Workers Movement, Václav Havel and the Velvet Revolution, and Greta Thunberg and the Climate Change Movement. Each account is filled with details of the work of organizing, the dangers of participating, and the power of a people united against injustice and oppressive systems. Each account is straightforward, honest, and encouraging. And for those who read the main parts of the book and are looking for more, Hasak-Lowry provides short summaries of other successful movements that readers can use to jump-start their own research.
I cannot imagine a better time for this book to come into the world. It could be used as a whole to spark lively class discussions or in parts with students focusing on a nonviolent movement of their choice to read and learn about or even read individually by students who are already involved in changing the world. Students, teachers, and others who read this book are sure to learn about and be inspired by the stories of the nonviolent activists who have made positive changes to the modern world. I can’t recommend WE ARE POWER more highly. I hope it will fuel many to work toward a better future for all of humankind.