Susie Clark:
The Bravest Girl
You’ve Ever Seen

A story about desegregating Iowa schools in 1868.
By Joshalyn Hickey-Johnson. Illustrated by Hayle Calvin.

About the Book

This picture book beautifully simplifies for young readers a decades-long struggle for civil rights in a period before, during, and after the Civil War. It offers an imagined glimpse into the true story of Susan Clark and her family, who overcame barriers to equal access to education.

Susan Clark was just 13 when she became the first Black student in the United States to integrate a public school through a court order. Her lawsuit, decided by the Iowa Supreme Court in 1868, gave all Iowa children the right to attend public school regardless of race, religion, nationality, or any other distinction. Segregated schools were the norm in many states until the 1954 US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Susan’s case contributed to that landmark decision.

Where to Order

Order hardcover or softcover editions on BookBaby. For 50% off the list price of either edition, use this coupon code at checkout: Muscatine

Read the Ebook

The ebook edition of Susie Clark is freely available for personal reading below. You can also download the ebook PDF.


Book Details

Genre: Children’s Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Age Range (Years): 3 – 10
Language: English / (Spanish – coming soon!)
Pages: 72
Hardcover ISBN: 9798350923667
Softcover ISBN: 9798350923650

Author’s Read-Aloud

Author Joshalyn Hickey-Johnson reads Susie Clark, courtesy of Musser Public Library:


Learn More

To learn more about Alexander Clark, Susie’s father and civil rights activist whose 1868 lawsuit integrated schools in the state of Iowa, watch the documentary, Lost in History: Alexander Clark.

Author & Illustrator

Joshalyn Hickey-Johnson, aka Ms. Rocki, was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa, and attended Waterloo public schools. She is the mother of two and grandmother of seven. Ms. Rocki took on the challenge of working a traditionally male job at Viking Pump in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and worked there for 30 years. She began writing books featuring real-life experiences from her children’s lives as they were growing up. Her debut book, “GOOD MORNING, LOVEY!” was published in 2005, followed by “Travis It’s NOT Your Birthday!” in 2008. She partnered with Chaveevah Ferguson, serving as a publicist with BaHar Publishing, the first African-American-owned book publishing company in Iowa. She co-authored “Ropes In The Kitchen” with her father, Naaman ‘Jock’ Hickey. Ms. Rocki started NORTH END UPDATE, a weekly live interactive show highlighting good things in her local community and featured on Iowa Public Television’s “Greetings from Iowa.” Since 2017, she has worked on the show with her best friend and co-host Chaveevah. Ms. Rocki recently hosted Iowa PBS’s “Juneteenth: THE MOVEMENT.”


Hayle Calvin is an artist/graphic designer based in her hometown of Clinton, Iowa. She graduated from Clinton Community College with an associate of arts degree in 2019. She graduated two years later from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor of arts in graphic design. Currently, Hayle works as an associate graphic designer for a non-profit organization and dabbles in many areas of fine arts, including digital illustration. When she’s not drawing, you can find Hayle roller skating, working on a crochet project, or playing with her cat, Luna. She loves her work and hopes to inspire at least one person to be creative.


Susie Clark: The Bravest Girl You’ve Ever Seen is presented by:

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