#BlackHistoryMonth Non-Fiction Book Review | “Standing Up Against Hate” (How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII) by Mary Cronk Farrel

Posted Friday, 15 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: In November [2018] I received a request about the newest Ms Farrell release – for those of you who’ve been visiting with me for awhile, you might have recalled I previously read her “Fannie Never Flinched” release in [2016] which was equally important for what it highlighted for young readers. I love reading empowering works of Non-Fiction which are highlighting hidden stories from History – this one felt as riveting as how I felt when I discovered the story within the film “Hidden Figures”. In many ways, I wish whilst I was in school they focused more on compelling stories like all of these and gave us a better living representation of History from multiple perspectives, cultural heritages and endeavour to make History lit more alive by the stories of the people who lived them. This is one reason I read a lot of Historical Fiction and why I look for Narrative Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Standing Up Against Hate from the publisher Abrams Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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what i enjoyed about reading fannie never flinched:

We arrive in 1897 (so close to when my great-grandparents were alive themselves!) where the sad reality of girls working in sewing factories is brought to light. Those machines could be deadly or at the very least injurious to young girls whose fingers might not realise the strength of the mechanism they were working on. I flashed back to all the stories – in fiction and in film, where factories were exposed for their bad working habits and traditions. It was not hard to imagine this sequence of Fannie’s life – but for readers just becoming exposed to those harder truths of the historical past, the text and the photograph of all the ladies lined up in tight rows working past deprivation of sleep and hunger proves the point along.

Hers was a hard upbringing but an honest one, too. She was put to work as soon as she could earn her keep; such was the tradition of the era. It was nothing to be gone all day (hours past what a child should be expected to do) and without proper treatment or provisions for the labour given. By the time news was arriving about the insurrection in the industry to rise above the issues and draw attention to the rights women needed most, Fannie rose in a new confidence to seek out how to join the fight.

The historical photographs become the living testimony to strengthen the context – showing real women and real events along the passageway of Fannie’s life. Fannie’s life was one that began and continued in poverty; she simply never was given a chance to get a leg up on anything but was expected to do what was called upon her to get done. This is the era where women had little say, no respect and even had a risk taken against them to speak out against what was unfair. The moxie it must have taken for her to start to put together organisation towards bringing in change!

She became a natural bourne activist – travelling and speaking to as many people as she could who would listen to what she had to say. It did not surprise me she took heed of the plight of miners and their families – as their plight was similar to her own and those amongst her peers. They were given less rather than more, asked to work hard and were provided so little in return. Their families lived in squalor and could barely get by, hence why I think Fannie took a breath of strength to realise that her cause had multiple cross-applications! Working conditions were inhumane in more than one industry!

All whilst she tallied and worked tirelessly towards change, time was against her; as her family moved forward without her presence most of the time. Even in regards to the change she was seeking, it felt distant and unattainable due to the backlash she was getting from those who opposed her efforts. Her death was unnecessary and brutal – spoken with earnest disclosure in the end of the book. This biography is not for the sensitive reader – so if a child isn’t yet emotionally ready to read or listen to the story in full, I’d find a way to gloss over the harder chapters until they reach the point where they can handle all the details. Sometimes children can surprise us and handle more information than we think they can process but other times, too much information can lead to nightmares. Although all the facts are presented quite humbly, I might draw concern that they are a bit too pointed for more sensitive readers who might not want to know those exact details.

What shocked me the most is how she died and how her legacy was tucked underneath a rug so to speak. She never saw justice – not in life nor in death, except that the fight she participated in did yield eventually to better rights in labour laws but the price was so high, you feel sorry for Fannie in the end. How she believed so rightly in standing together and standing strong yet she had a faction of people who were blinded by hate and prejudice who took her out without so much as a passing regret or ounce of remorse. This is the saddest part of uncovering historical artifacts of humanity’s past – sometimes you find that such horrid things can happen in the midst of someone trying to right a wrong.

I commend the author for her tenacity and her dedication to tell Fannie’s story! She truly found the spirit of Fannie in her research and her pursuit of how to voice her living history! She should truly be honoured by what she was able to leave behind and to help safeguard the memory of Fannie forevermore!

-quoted from my review of Fannie Never Flinched

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Standing Up Against Hate
Subtitle: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII
by Mary Cronk Farrell
Source: Direct from Publisher

STANDING UP AGAINST HATE is the story of black women in the World War II Women’s Army Corps. They did not have civil rights nor the full protection of the law in America. Still, thousands signed up to serve their country and help fight the fascist regimes threatening democracy around the world.

As black WACs took up posts around the country they realized they would fight the enemy at home, long before they’d get a crack at the enemy abroad. At Fort Devens, Massachusetts, black WACs protested their unfair assignments to menial jobs that were never given to white WACs. Refusing to clean kitchens and scrub floors, they risked court martial and prison. Black women assigned to posts in the south feared for their lives traveling on buses and trains. Even their army uniforms did not protect them from assault and battery due to their skin color.

This book offers a much-need perspective on the lives of women of color in WWII America, some of the bravest and most adventurous women of their time. They interrupted careers, left home and loved ones, succeeded in jobs women had never done and stood up against racism and prejudice with dignity. African American WACs served with excellence, breaking barriers to make way for black women today who serve at the highest levels of the U.S. military.

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Women's Studies

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781419731600

Also by this author: Fannie Never Flinched

Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

on 8th January, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 208

Published By: Abrams Books for Young Readers (@abramskids)
an imprint of Abrams Books

Available Formats: Hardcover Edition

Converse via: #KidsLit, #BlackHistoryMonth + #NonFiction, #WomensRights

Read about what inspired this release on the author’s blog!

About Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell is an award-winning author of five books for young people and former television journalist with a passion for stories about women facing great adversity with courage. She researches little known stories from history and relates them with engaging and powerful language in her books, multi-media presentations and workshops. Farrell has appeared on TV and radio across the nation. She speaks to women’s groups, civic groups, and at museums, schools and libraries.

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Being a letter-writer, I immediately warmed to this story of the courage and dedication of the women from the 6888th Central Postal Directly Battalion! I also love the series As Time Goes By from the BBC which is about how an errant letter which was never delivered but ended up in a museum was the cause of why Lionel and Jean never married til they were in their golden years when fate was kind and redirected them back into each others lives. Stories about the mail and soldiers is one I am familiar with as it was the central theme of interest behind my beloved Letters from Skye – I was never lost for words knowing how hard it was to get the mail to go through from solider to family and back again!

Sadly, as I am very well-read and had my eyes open as a young student in the American South – I know how quickly someone can become judged by their cultural heritage and their ethnicity. I grew up in a melting pot of a metropolis but even then, I witnessed people being judged not for their character or their actions but because they had a different heritage than others. I never understood it and I never will. I grew up with a firm respect for all persons and all lifestyles – that was one of the blessings of living in a city because you were regularly engaging with people from all walks of life. Therefore, it did not surprise me to learn about the racial injustice of these women being judged harshly for their ethnic background by other soldiers who honestly should have staid quiet rather than add more fuell to the hatred they were sharing against women who were serving our country just as hard and just as dedicated as the men. In that regard, I wonder if any woman serving had it easy on that one note alone as I’ve read other accounts by other unites of women and they too, faced an uphill climb to prove women belonged in the Army and other divisions of the Armed Forces.

I love how inter-personal this account becomes – the generous amount of photographs which are peppered throughout the context of the story became my favourite ‘additions’ as it is lovely to see the women we’re reading about as their story evolves into closer focus. It is like a historical scrapbook – as you weave through their lives and the hardships they faced, you also get to see a glimpse of their lives through the photographs and you can put a face to the people your reading about which is another reason why I love photos to be inclusive to Non-Fiction stories.

I was not surprised Eleanor Roosevelt had a hand in helping push forward the idea for women in the army and I was grateful she helped pave the road for African-American women to serve as well. I enjoyed learning more about her when I read a Biographical Historical novel focused on a portion of her life.

What brought this to life was the quotations from the women who lived this life for themselves – from Charity Adams to other women who served, these living histories of the first African-American recruits represented the History of their unit in a way that befits the hardships they endured. It is not simply that Ms Farrell was writing their histories down from a second-hand account but rather, she dug in deeper, sought out their own words and allowed them the grace to tell their story in a way which gave you a stronger impression of the hardship, the prejudice and the obstacles they regularly faced just to get their jobs done.

I felt their determined grit to prove themselves but also the frustration of being hindered by the segregation; where they couldn’t even properly function in their roles as they were constantly hitting a brick wall of prejudice. I can’t even imagine the kind of courage it took for them to continue to believe the day would get better – to where they would find respect and have the chance to do what they had trained to do. The odds were surely against them but what really strikes your heart is how they never backed down. They didn’t let the setbacks rile them – even though it was emotionally jarring, they found ways to carry-on. They wanted to create a better life for themselves and who could blame them? Everyone wants to get a better life if they’ve had a lot of strife in the past and if this was their one way towards that goal, I felt they ought to have had a better time achieving it than constantly being bombarded by the injustices they regularly had to work round.

That is singularly the hardest part about reading and researching History – uncovering the times in our lives where people were not seen as being equal and where the inequalities were starkly built against everyone someone else felt was inferior. It had no basis in reality but those misconceptions and misunderstandings led to larger issues – some of which are still being battled against today. It is heart-breaking and it is maddening – as these are hard-working women who felt inspired to join the Army only to find that the Army wasn’t as inspired to have them serve. The uphill insanity that that presented had to be mind-numbing after awhile – how they found the resolve and the stamina to keep pushing against that wall is a credit to their fortitude and their spirit of sisterhood.

This also reflects the passion of the writer who is presenting their stories – Farrell finds the women in History who reshaped the way in which the world viewed them. She also finds the heart of the spirit behind the changes which all of us can recognise as ‘turning points’ where History learnt hard lessons and where people moved closer towards Equality. Even the wages in which these women were making was ‘less than’ the men, something modern women can also relate to as the age-gap and the gender-gap in wages is still as viable now as it was during the war era. There is still a strong ongoing fight for Equality across all industries and for those who are attempting to earn a living wage – the worst offence is really the lower minimum wage which fluctuates from state to state to where no one has a chance of surfacing an income anywhere near where it ought to be. This is where the past and the present collide – to where we’ve overcome a few points of negativeness and have a heap more to overcome as we continue to strive for a better future.

As you progress into the heart of Standing Up Against Hate – you learn that the women were not just mail sorters, but they were being trained for all kinds of jobs and positions throughout the Army. They had something to prove first and foremost – that they were equally able to do the jobs everyone else was recruited to doing but they were also wanting to seek out the opportunities to do the jobs which historically were not always allowed for them to pursue. This is why they wanted to become trained in specialisation areas and to seek out opportunities for employment which was not limited to cooking or cleaning. You rally behind them – as you learn how they moved up in rank or were given more chances for advancement because this is what it should have been like all along – equal opportunity and equal paths to serve our country.

What saddens your heart and what is difficult to take-in though is how they were targeted for their right to serve and how sadly, America during this era was very closed shop and unjust. There were a lot of things brewing in the background and foreground of these brave women who were attempting to serve our country – things that are hard to read about because its hard to understand why someone would dismiss someone simply due to having a different background and ethnic heritage. These were hard working women who were being sequestered away from their rights to serve, forced to do things they hadn’t signed on for in the Army and that led to a series of events which highlighted their strife and their hardship first-hand. The frustrating thing as a reader is how none of this should have happened and how strong they had to be to overcome not just the hate but the mindset against them.

I rejoiced finding out they had an easier time in England and France; how those two countries were progressing with forward-thinking towards race and the truer acceptance of people’s differences when it came to how they respected the women serving in their countries. It didn’t surprise me as for many years when I had friends in Europe they were constantly telling me how in many regards, America was behind the times and how they were progressing ahead at a faster rate of acceleration.

When it came to sorting the mail directly – what impressed me is how they sorted out whom to send the parcels and letters, too! I hadn’t even realised until now that most of the servicemen were going by nicknames or shortening their names altogether to where these women who were called into sorting the mail back to the rightful receivers had to somehow ‘uncover’ the secret of who was whom and it wasn’t as easy as simply aligning the name with the new address! I also had a purview of how hard this is in regards to new addresses when I volunteered with Soldiers’ Angels for a few years – when the companies move or relocate, the mail doesn’t always move with their units. I used to receive a few of those parcels back and oft-times I wonder how they even made it to me as they truly looked like they had been from the back of beyond! The fact these women could re-direct the mail to the soldiers is beyond incredible!

Also, through my volunteering – I can attest to how mail and morale do walk hand-in-hand as it is something for them to receive that takes them out of their ‘day’. Meaning, for the brief time they have to read the letter they’re being sent – their not thinking about their duty but can be human again for the length of time the letter is read. I think that is the hardest part about the military – they work so hard and for so long, that sometimes the resemblances of home and a life outside of service falls to the wayside. Mail has a way of not just lifting their spirits but of re-grounding them to the people they were prior to their deployment.

This is an impressive work of living stories and the back-history of how African-American women left their mark on the US Army. It is quite the incredible story – full of the angst and the sacrifice which came with their service but also the moments of celebration where they made enroads towards tolerance and acceptance. This is definitely a well-researched account of how women fought for Equality in the military and how they won the right to be seen as equal partners in service with men. I truly appreciated the lengths Ms Ferrell went to write their story but also, how she highlighted their journey from the moment they enlisted to the moment President Truman changed history by dismissing segregation entirely.

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This book review is courtesy of:

Abrams Books for Young Readers (@abramskids)

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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This story counted towards some of my reading challenges for 2019:

#NonFicReads19 banner created by Jorie in Canva.2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “Standing Up Against Hate” and the book synopsis were provided by the publisher Abrams Books for Young Readers. The author’s biography and photograph were previously provided by JKS Communications and are used with permission. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The 2019 New Release Challenge badge was provided by unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, #NonFicReads19 banner and the Comment Box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 15 February, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, African-American Literature, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, The World Wars, Women's Rights

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