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"Miles' Song" by Alice McGill; Houghton Mifflin, $15, 213 pages.

Twelve-year-old Miles is training to be a house servant on a plantation in the South in 1851 when he's caught in a "criminal" act -- looking at a book -- and sent away to be punished at the "breaking ground."

There Miles learns what it really means to be a slave. He also learns to read, from a slave named Elijah who encourages him to think of escaping to the North. Miles returns to the plantation with big plans. But how can he leave old Mama Cee, the woman who has always cared for him?

McGill draws on her skill as a professional storyteller to come up with a suspenseful story and a vivid picture of what it was to be a slave.

-- Jean Westmoore


A quiz for Black History Month:

1. The movie "Glory," starring Denzel Washington, was based on the true story of the first black Federal fighting unit in the Civil War. It came from:

a) California

b) Florida

c) Massachusetts

2. This movie told the story of the first black Navy diver:

a) "Remember the Titans"

b) "Men of Honor"

c) "The Replacements"

3. What movie did actor Eddie Murphy not have a part in?

a) "Mulan"

b) "Chicken Run"

c) "Dr. Dolittle"

Answers: 1. c 2. b 3. b


1861 -- American Civil War begins. Some 208,000 African American soldiers fight with the Union Army.

1863 -- President Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in rebel states.

1865 -- Civil War ends. Slavery outlawed by 13th Amendment. President Lincoln assassinated. Ku Klux Klan founded.

1868 -- Congress passes 14th amendment, giving blacks equal citizenship and civil rights.

1881 -- Booker T. Washington founds Tuskegee Institute.

1891 -- Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, allows "separate but equal" facilities, a ruling that protects segregation for the next 50 years.

1908 -- African-American boxer Jack Johnson becomes first world heavyweight champion.

1909 -- W.E.B. DuBois founds National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

1910-1930 -- "The Great Migration": More than 1 million southern blacks move to northern cities.

-- Washington Post


What did George Washington's father say when he saw his report card?

"George, you're going down in history."

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