HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Join Hester Bass, children's author and former Huntsville resident, as she launches her new children's book "Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama" at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library on Sunday, February 1st, at 2:00 p.m.
Set in a time when civil rights in our country conjures images of violence and worse, this book illustrates something different happening in Huntsville. Individuals were working together to integrate the city and schools in peace. The book is a peaceful narrative about the courage Huntsville residents showed during this time.
Bass said her inspiration for the book came after her arrival to Huntsville in 2003.
"I asked around and said, 'do you know this story, do you know that the first integrated public school is here in Huntsville?' Many, many people said no. I didn't know that," Bass said.
So Bass went straight to the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library and started poring over documents. She talked with people who marched and sat for an integrated Huntsville.
"The book really chronicles each action being a seed, so one by one, those actions planted the seeds of freedom here in Huntsville," said Bass.
The story is as thoughtful as it is powerful, with beautiful illustrations by E.B. Lewis. One image shows a young black girl holding up a paper with an outline of her feet to a shoe salesman. She needed new shoes, but knew she wouldn't be allowed to try them on in the store.
"I remember getting my patent leather shoes for Sunday and my new dresses and it was so exciting," Bass said. "To be told that you can't try them on, that would just be heartbreaking, and he really captured that."
We were interested to ask Bass about the recent school rezoning developments in Huntsville, considering how much she's read on it. She wasn't shy to share her opinion.
"I did an awful lot of research, and yes, Huntsville City Schools still operates under a federal court ordered desegregation, however, so do dozens and dozens and dozens of communities all across this country," said Bass. She says grappling with these difficult issues is never easy. But just like the beautiful pictures in her book illustrate, change can and will happen.
"If you see something going on, and you would like to change it, perhaps you're the one to do so," Bass said.
Hester also will talk about her work at the Bailey Cove Library, 1409 Weatherly Plaza, on Sunday, February 8, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. for an SCBWI Southern Breeze Schmooze, which is open to the public. Then she will sign books at the Bridge Street Barnes & Noble starting at 4 p.m.
Learn more about the author at http://hesterbass.com.