SHE STOOD FOR FREEDOM: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Anyone can make a difference. Find a problem, get some friends together, and go fix it. Remember you don’t have to change the world…just change your world. —Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

In the early 1960s, in the segregated South, a white teenager, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, made a conscientious decision to join the Civil Rights struggle. In doing so she put her life at risk, but given her family history (the first relative to come to America did so as an indentured servant in the 1600s; her grandmother was a suffragette) she could not sit idly by as blacks were treated like second-class citizens. She organized non-violent sit-ins, attended a predominately black college, and participated in protests including the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March.

She was arrested and held on death row; she was spit on, dragged off her stool and threatened with violence at a Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, yet she never relented.

Now readers of all ages can learn more about this extraordinary woman in She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland written by her son, Loki Mullholland, and illustrated by Charlotta Janssen. Shadow Mountain Publishing will be publishing the first biography of her story in two editions in August: a picture book for ages 4 to 8, and an illustrated biography for readers ages 8 and older which also includes primary source photographs and documents from the period. She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mullholland has been nominated for the 2017 Amelia Bloomer Award, part of the American Library Association's Task Force on Social Responsibility recognizing the best feminist books for young readers that "affirm positive roles for girls and women". 

These two books both powerfully convey her compelling story, and the work of acclaimed artist Charlotta Janssen ingeniously communicates the emotion of this tumultuous period in American history in striking collage compositions: layer upon layer of faces of courage, masks of hatred and fear, places of peaceful protest and ghastly violence. Throughout every chapter, signs of hope shine from the unwavering commitment from activists who came from all across the nation to converge in the South to take a stand for social justice.

“Children are focused on the now, but those who don't study the past are condemned to repeat it,” notes Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. “By reading a biography and seeing the artwork and artifacts of a life, the Civil Rights Movement becomes more real; it connects them to a time and place and the circumstances.”

The book documents Joan Trumpauer Mulholland’s experiences as an activist from her childhood in the segregated South to her role in the Civil Rights Movement, including these highlights:

  • In 1961 she was arrested as one of the Freedom Riders and put on death row for months at the notorious Parchman Penitentiary.
  • In 1963 she was the first white person to cross the color line at the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins in Jackson, Mississippi which incensed the white segregationist crowd who grew violent and swarmed her, spat on her and threatened her life.
  • She participated in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery and helped plan the March on Washington, which contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
  • Her path crossed with heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hammer, Robert F. Kennedy, and John Lewis. 

Through it all, Joan’s belief that a group of passionate people can make positive change in their community and the world has never wavered.

The picture book edition describes in an age-appropriate way, how the America of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland’s youth was torn by racial injustice. Through carefully crafted storytelling young readers will come to understand the struggle during the tumultuous era of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement from blacks being arrested for marching to register to vote or participating in peaceful sit-ins, to the daily injustices of living in segregation, emphasizing the heroes who worked for positive change and equality under the law.

The edition for readers ages 8 and older uses collage art and blends photographs from the period with the text, and features sidebar commentary from Joan reflecting on those years. It also includes riveting primary source documents from Joan’s personal archives like the letter sent to Joan’s mother during her arrest at Parchman

Penitentiary in which the warden responds to her mother’s inquiries about her health and on official letterhead of the state exhibits the deep racism of the time by admonishing her mother for permitting a “white minor girl to gang up with a bunch of negro bucks and white hoodlums.”


Loki Mulholland is the award-winning filmmaker of An Ordinary Hero which tells his mother's story and he is the founder and Executive Director of the Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation, a non-profit established to educate youth about Civil Rights and to encourage young people to make a positive change in their communities.

Charlotta Janssen was born in Maine to German parents and she studied art at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany. Her work has been showcased in more than forty gallery exhibitions worldwide and she has been featured in The New Yorker, New York Daily News,, American Collector magazine and

Angela Fairwell, who contributed to the picture book edition, works with a nonprofit organization that helps children advance their reading skills.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland is a community volunteer and frequent speaker at educational conferences. She has appeared on news and entertainment programs such as CBS Nightly News, and her story is highlighted in award-winning documentaries including An Ordinary Hero, PBS’ Freedom Riders, and Eyes on the Prize. She has received numerous awards for her work in the Civil Rights Movement including the Anti-Defamation League’s Hero Against Hate Award, and the 2016 Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum. She was also recently recognized by President Barack Obama along with other female Freedom Riders.

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For a review copy, more information or to set up an interview, contact: Susan Raab, Publisher inquires: please contact Ilise Levine .

SHE STOOD FOR FREEDOM: The Untold Story of the Civil Rights Hero Joan Trumpauer Mulholland 

by Loki Mulholland with artwork by Charlotta Janssen 

Shadow Mountain Publishing

9781629721774/$14.99/HC/Ages 8 & up  -- Read She Stood for Freedom (middle grade - with links to video)   

9781629721767/$17.99/HC/Ages 4-8 picture book edition written with Angela Fairwell -- Read She Stood for Freedom (picture book - with links to video)

She Stood for Freedom is also on NetGalley

Available: August 2, 2016

Praise for She Stood for Freedom:


"Mulholland's courage and determination are stressed and explained in terms that young readers can understand. The colorful cut-paper-collage illustrations by Charlotta Janssen feature photographs and scenes that should be familiar to those studying the time period. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland is not a name that is familiar in children's books; this is an excellent opportunity to correct an oversight."


"Unheralded heroes walk among us-and in Loki Mulholland's case, in his own family. His mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, was an early civil rights activist who took Christian tenets to heart as a child. She was an anomaly when she first embraced the cause: young, white, female, and Southern, a combination that incensed the Ku Klux Klan, who placed her on a hit list. In 1960, at the age of 19, Mulholland started participating in lunch counter sit-ins, and through major events of the civil rights movement, she faced death countless times. This condensation of her son's 2013 documentary, An Ordinary Hero, enhanced by Janssen's evocative illustrations alongside shocking historic documents, is co-published with an edition for younger readers, both of which highlight Mulholland's enduring message for children: 'Find a problem, get some friends together, and go fix it.'"

 Publishers Weekly

"Janssen's evocative mixed-media collages tap into the turbulence of the events discussed; aqua, rust, and drab greens provide the only color, melding with photographs, drawings, maps, newspaper headlines, diary entries, and official documents. The clear, direct narrative contextualizes Joan's actions within the larger movement while explaining words like segregation for young audiences. A brief civil rights timeline is included, and a middle grade edition of the book (with the same title) is available simultaneously."