review: Race Against Time : The Untold Story of Scipio Jones and the Battle to Save Twelve Innocent Men

title: Race Against Time : The Untold Story of Scipio Jones and the Battle to Save Twelve Innocent Men
authors: Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace
date: Calkins Creek; 2021
MG/YA historical nonfiction

Race Against Time The Untold Story of Scipio Jones and The Battle to Save Twelve Innocent Men came out earlier this year. Scipio Africanus Jones was a highly successful self-taught Black lawyer who practiced in the early twentieth century. The twelve innocent men he fought to protect were Black men in Alabama who were beginning the work of union organizing. White landowners wouldn’t have it. This begins to explain the lack of labor unions in the south, lower wages for workers and poorer working conditions.

These 12 men were the survivors on the attack at their organizational meeting in September, 1919, the tail end of the Red Summer. Race Riots and massacres were occurring across the nation because Black soldiers came home from WWI in 1918 and dared demand equal rights. History contains lessons of cause and effect. The Greenwood Massacre didn’t occur in isolation. It’s important to know our Black American, Japanese/Asian American history because this is American history.  It’s important not only to know the trauma that defines us, but to also know the people like Scipio Jones, heroes who have fallen from the pages of history.

The book has received starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Connection. Sandra Neil Wallace is the daughter of a refugee and concentration camp survivor. The first generation in her family to attend university, Sandra became a journalist. Her books have won national awards including NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction, SCBWI’s Golden Kite Honor Award, ILA’s Social Justice Literature Award, and been chosen as Outstanding Science Books and Best Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus, Booklist, and the New York and Chicago Public Libraries. (from her website). Rich Wallace Rich has an extensive background as a writer and editor, having served for many years as a senior editor at Highlights for Children magazine. He has written more than 25 books for young readers. (from his website) The married couple also wrote  Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights.

Photos are embedded throughout the text to readers envision the era. I fought a few distracting bumps in the text but not enough to prevent me from recommending this book.