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This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  861 ratings  ·  208 reviews
In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one anoth ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This verse memoir delivers punches, reflections, and vividly lived experiences of a 14-year-old African American student whose first year in the first integrated Tennessee state high school could teach us so much - about the danger of hateful ideologies and how easily people could be swayed by carefully orchestrated propaganda based on discontent.
Bethany M. Edwards
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, social-justice
This non-fiction novel in verse is the story of the 12 students at Central High School in the small town of Clinton, Tennessee who caught the nation's attention. This never been told, first-hand account will enrapture readers, young and old, of what happened when Clinton High School was integrated after the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education.

The Promise of Change was done in part by one of the 12 students, Jo Ann Allen. I have been a long time fan of author and historian Debbie Lev
Leonard Kim
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Written with lightning
Jo Oehrlein
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The story of the Clinton 12 who desegregated the high school in Clinton, TN, written by one of them.

I thought that writing it in verse was an inspired choice. Sometimes, though, the structured rhyming poems pulled me out of the story. I think it would have flowed better if it were all in free verse.

You do a hard thing and you think it's going to get easier over time. Things did not get easier for the Clinton 12. Things got harder and harder. And it wasn't the education that was the problem -- it
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Wiping away tears as I finish. What a book!
Dee Dee G
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read lots of books about segregation but as an empath this one really got to me.
Where to start? There’s so much I’d like to say about this book. First – just read it. You’ve heard about the Little Rock 9 and you’ve heard about Ruby Bridges but before both, in August 1956, there was the Clinton 12. Co-author Jo Ann Allen was one of the 12 and she tells her story in verse. I finished in one sitting. A tragic tale with riveting moments. As a reader, you meet and are immersed in the story of beautiful people who suffered the injustices of a racist society.

Woven into the format
Monica Edinger
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
High 4-Sometimes novels in verse are hit or miss but this was really powerful. It was about the author's experience of going to Clinton High School, the first to integrate in the 1950's. This would be great paired up with "Lions of Little Rock." ...more
Hannah Ziegler
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A powerful true story, written in verse, of Jo Ann Allen and how she and eleven other black students courageously and relentlessly desegregated Clinton High School in 1956. They walked past angry mobs, white supremacists, and fellow students throwing eggs, yelling horrible racial slurs and holding hateful signs so they could attend school in their own town, in their own neighborhood. It wasn’t easy. The National Guard sometimes walked with them; a local white pastor escorted them and then was se ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How wonderful that Jo Ann Allen wrote a novel for children to understand what she went through during desegregation and how she felt. I love that she wrote this in verse. I feel a story told in verse will attract more middle-grade readers; in turn, more learning about this and becoming more empathetic to anyone who is different.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, rc18
powerful and moving, memorable as all get out, and such an important story. I would have given it a fifth star except that, although I liked the free verse sections, I found the more formal poetic verse sections awkward to read (a preference, more than a criticism)
Michele Knott
I wish more classrooms had books like this at the ready for when discussing the time periods the books cover in class. When you learn something out of a textbook, the history feels disjointed. Books like this makes history come to life and become more meaningful for readers.
Carol Baldwin

This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality co-written by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy is a book you won't be able to put down. Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve students in Clinton, Tn who integrated Clinton High School in 1956. Debbie Levy has given voice to Jo Ann's stories in a unique nonfiction biography that uses more than eight varieties of poetry. That is quite an accomplishment.

But as Jo Ann and Debbie would most likely be quick to acknowledge, their acc
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher.

School integration and the Deep South have quite the history that’s far too recent for my tastes. When Georgia’s resistance to integration dragged on into the 1970s and forced the federal government to get involved, my own mother had to fight to stay in public school with her friends; my great-grandparents tried to put her in a private school that had been set up solely so the most racist of white parents wouldn
Wow! This blew me away! I had never heard of the Clinton Twelve before. This was the first high school to be desegregated in the south (Clinton,TN). Jo Ann Boyce (née Allen) joined with Debbie Levy to write this. Jo Ann was one of the Clinton Twelve and often spoke with media during that first semester. As an adult, she has often shared her story at schools, etc. Obviously, she always had a knack for communication! She never quite managed to write down her experiences until her daughter in law m ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This nonfiction novel in verse tells the story of Jo Ann Allen, one of the twelve African-American students who were among the first in the nation to integrate a segregated high school in the South. The small town of Clinton, Tennessee became one of the first communities to attempt desegregation after the Supreme Court ruling made segregation illegal. A year before the Little Rock 9, this lesser-known group of brave students at first attended their new school without incident but then outside ag ...more
Kelly Hager
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Schools being desegregated feels like centuries ago, at least to me. It's not that far, though. My mom was in high school when her school was integrated (in Delaware), and while she doesn't remember any problems, I'd be very curious what her new classmates felt and if they would agree.

This is an astonishing book full of incredibly brave people. Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve people in her Tennessee high school to go to the formerly all white school. There were protesters outside and there were m
Before the "Little Rock 9" (1957) and before 6 year old Ruby Bridges attended all-white William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans (1960), there was the "Clinton 12" (1956) who integrated a public white high school in Tennessee. This is the story of one of those student (Jo Ann Allen) told by Jo Ann and co-author Debbie Levy. Why hadn't we heard this story? The authors give their opinion, but I'm just glad this story is being told now, and that young readers can experience the difficult and courag ...more
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow. So, if you have done any kind of reading about the civil rights movement, you know about the Little Rock 9. Their story is important, and I'm glad that they are being learned about. But this story, of the Clinton 12, is one that I was not familiar with. It occurred before the Little Rock 9, and it was very well-known at the time, but has somehow faded into the background of history. This novel in verse tell the story in a poignant yet approachable way. It is beautifully written, using many ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.
This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy was released on 1.8.19!

This beautifully written and powerful non-fiction novel in verse gives readers a look into what is was like for the Clinton 12. The Clinton 12 refers to the twelve African American students who integrated into a school for whites only. As the community fought against the 12, Jo Ann writes a ve
Corban Ford
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This verse memoir from one of the the Clinton 12 was moving, poignant, at times painful, but always beautiful. The Clinton 12 desegregated ahigh school in Clinton, TN and went through so much together in this fight for school equality in general, and for the right to equality at large. I found myself breezing through this one and then re-reading it, to really get the most out of it. It definitely wasn't easy for myself as I had this book on my desk for some 3 weeks before resolving to go through ...more
Catherine Nicolls
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At first I was surprised that it was written in poem form but I grew to really enjoy it. A fantastic telling of the desegregation of a high school in Clinton, through the eyes of the Author,a young girl. Heartbreaking. My favorite part was when she gave an interview toward the end and said that they might have been accepted in the school of parents had taught their children to love instead of hate.
Sarah Ressler Wright
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Before the Little Rock Nine, a school in AtN was integrated with much the same results. Told from the perspective of one of the students who integrated, a heart wrenching and realistic look at the issues. Told fully in POETRY, included much FREE VERSE POETRY plus other poetic writing styles , this is a fabulous addition to the collection for those who need more VERSE NOVELS!
Jo Ann's story gives power to the idea that change happens slowly and painfully. ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Okay I’m calling Newbery on this for sure.
Lisa Finke
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very's horrible to think there's so much hatred in this world! ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for Chapter and Verse Book Club as a possible contender for the 2020 Sibert Award.'s a contender alright! How did I not know this story? After Brown versus the Board of Education, and before the Little Rock 9 and Ruby Bridges, came the Clinton 12 and Jo Ann Allen Boyce!

"The Promise of Change," a memoir in verse, begins in the fall of 1955 in Clinton, Tennessee, with a description of fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen Boyce's everyday life and her community. Boyce describes C
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