The Trailblazing Life of Viola Desmond

  • Illustrated By: Chelsea Charles
  • Pages:96
  • Publisher:Orca Book Publishers
  • Themes:racism, civil rights movement, social justice, trailblazer, equal rights
  • Available:09/12/2023
  • Lexile:870L
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:X
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Years before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, Viola Desmond took a similar stand against racial segregation in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

On November 8, 1946, she was arrested for refusing to move from the "whites-only" section of a movie theater. Her heroic act inspired Black community leaders and made her a symbol of courage in the fight against inequality. This story of Viola's life is based on rare interviews with her sister Wanda Robson, who spent her life championing her sister's story and was successful in getting Viola a posthumous pardon that recognized she was innocent of any crime. From their childhood in Nova Scotia to Viola's career as a teacher in a segregated school and, later, her role as a pioneer in Black beauty culture, young readers are introduced to the girl and the woman who went on to become the face of the civil-rights movement in Canada.

“This colourfully illustrated biography tells [Desmond’s] courageous story with firsthand recollections from her younger sister Wanda Robson…A solid, well-sourced addition to biographies on Black women civil rights leaders.”

– Booklist

“Informed with the late Wanda Robson’s memories of her admired sister Viola, Kehoe writes what will be the go-to biography for this age level for a long time to come…All public libraries and middle schools will want to add this biography to their collections. More than a biography of a social justice activist, it exposes the context of racial discrimination in Nova Scotia and Canada, and it highlights the entrepreneurial success of a trailblazing Black woman and her rich legacy. Highly recommended.”

– CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Download the The Trailblazing Life of Viola Desmond Chapter Sampler.