THE FIRST STEP: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial


Year Published: 2016

Written by: Susan E. Goodman

Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis


In 1847, a young African American girl named Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston. Then one day she was told she could never come back. She didn’t belong. The Otis School was for white children only.

Sarah deserved an equal education, and the Roberts family fought for change. They made history. Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. It was the first time an African American lawyer argued in a supreme court.

These first steps set in motion changes that ultimately led to equality under the law in the United States. Sarah’s cause was won when people–black and white–stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change!

With gorgeous art from award-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis, The First Step is an inspiring look at the first lawsuit to demand desegregation–long before the American Civil Rights movement, even before the Civil War.

Backmatter includes: integration timeline, bios on key people in the book, list of resources, and author’s note.


•A 2017 Orbis Pictus Honor Book

•Kids Best of the Best Book 2016: Chicago Public Library

•Nerdy Book Club Award: A Best Nonfiction Picture Book of 2016

•Finalist for the Cybils Elementary Nonfiction Award