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Moving Forward

From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights

Sits-Ins with Airman Alton Yates



Beach Lane Books

(Simon & Schuster)

(pub. 1.11.22) 48 pages

Author: Chris Barton

Illustrator: Stefi Walthall

Character: Alton Yates


"Meet activist Alton Yates, an Air Force veteran who dedicated his life to propelling America forward—from space travel to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond—in this inspiring nonfiction picture book.

As a child growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, Alton Yates watched Black veterans return home from fighting for their country, only to have that country turn its back on them. After Alton joined the Air Force and risked his life to make spacecraft and airplane flight safer, he returned home to the same Jim Crow laws.

Alton now had a new mission: To make a stand against Jim Crow."

Tantalizing taste:

"Wouldn't people who had risked their necks for their country be treated better when their service was complete? Wouldn't they at least be able to vote?

Not in Florida. Not in the South. Not under Jim Crow, the name for the system of laws keeping Black people - even veterans - apart from and underneath the whites.

Alton saw sailors and soldiers return from World War II and experience the same disappointment.

Then he saw it happen all over again to those who fought in Korea.

And yet, Alton could hardly wait to join the Air Force."

And something more: The back matter of Moving Forward includes Alton Yates's response to author Chris Barton's question, "What do you hope that people will take from the story of your experiences at Holloman [home of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory] and in 1960?":

"I hope that they will come away with a greater sense of optimism about the future of our country... I would hope that people would see the goodness of the American people... We have our flaws. We have things that sometimes we're not very proud of. But overall, we're still a people who realizes, I think, and appreciates the fact that we have been truly blessed. And that we have an obligation to share those blessings, or the fruit of those blessings, with others..."


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