The story begins with young Martin, angry and discouraged by the “WHITE ONLY” signs he finds everywhere he goes – by pools where he wants to swim, by fountains where he wants to drink water, and by bathrooms he wants to use. But Martin’s father tells him not to be angry, that he is as good as anybody else, and that he should look to the future, because the world would change one day.
The story continues with young Martin growing up and attending college, becoming Dr. King, a preacher like his father, and a respected civil rights organizer and leader. He marched with other organizers, but as the attacks became more widespread and violent against protesters, Dr. King put out a call for all of God’s children to help them in the fight against inequality. Rabbi Abraham Heschel answered the call.
Abraham Heschel grew up on the other side of the world in Poland, but his father, a Rabbi and man of God like Dr. King’s father, taught him the same values young Martin had been taught – that he was as good as anybody. Abraham was not rich, but his father taught him that there would always be someone in greater need, allowing Abraham to learn the importance of helping others.
Abraham grew up and attended a university in Berlin, Germany, and even though he obtained a job there, he was thrown out of Germany because he was Jewish. When he went home to Poland to find a job, he continued to encounter discrimination. He found signs that said “NO JEWS” wherever he went, and decided to leave Poland for America, where he would find a job and speak out against discrimination.
The story demonstrates that like Dr. King, Rabbi Abraham encountered opposition for speaking out for peace and equal rights. But Abraham was determined. His mother and sisters had been killed by Hitler’s army in Poland, and he felt it was his religious duty to help those in greater need than himself, and he answered Dr. King’s call to march for equal rights. On March 21, 1965, Rabbi Abraham Heschel marched with Dr. King and 3,000 others – Whites, Blacks, Christian and Jews – toward a better America. Four months later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.
As Good As Anybody is a great story of brotherhood, and a great book to demonstrate to young ones how all people, no matter their background can share similar experiences, and use those experiences to work together for good.