Tag Archives: enslaved people

The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery

Written by: Jehan Jones-Radgowski

Illustrated by: Poppy Kang

For ages: 9-13 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Abolition, POC-Centric Narratives, Resilience, Strength, Own Voices.

Summary: This book is phenomenal.  Robert Smalls was an enslaved man that was able to hold a job away from the person that enslaved him.  Because of this, he worked on a ship called The Planter during the Civil War and hatched a plan to save himself and many others.  Because Smalls was brave, intelligent, and cunning, he planned to impersonate the captain of The Planter and sail himself, his family, and around two dozen other enslaved people to the North where they would be free.  Robert set out and was able to sneak the large ship past several Confederate forts by carefully studying the actual ship captain’s movements, not raising suspicions of the soldiers stationed.

This book tells about the entire journey Robert Smalls underwent, and how his bravery also brought weapons to the Union army when the ship arrived.  After the story is an Afterword which talks more about enslavement and the Civil War.  I love the language that is used in the book, it is person-first and comprehensive without sounding like a lecture.  It puts forward Robert’s intelligence in carrying out his plan to help himself and others, rather than telling the story from a savior of abolitionist perspective, Robert is in charge of his own story.  There is also a glossary and a list of books that the reader can seek out to learn more, as well as a bibliography and a real photo of Robert!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0*sEWcmQeqnzW8U7AWJehan Jones-Radgowski is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She has lived all over the world, including South Africa, Spain, Venezuela, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Jehan currently lives in Germany with her family.

 

 

 

CTNPT_1258Poppy Kang is a freelance Illustrator and Visual Development Artist based in Los Angeles, California.

Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom

Written by: Gwendolyn Hooks

Illustrated by: Simone Agoussoye 

For ages: 9-12 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figures, Historical Events, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, American History. 

Summary: Ona Judge is a woman enslaved by George Washington.  Yes, that George Washington.  Ona is very intelligent, and in moving around with the Washingtons to various cities, she becomes aware that she could be freed and live amongst other free Black individuals.  Ona gets word that she is going to be given as a wedding present to a relative, and knows the time to escape is upon her.  Ona hid on a ship, stowing away to Portsmouth and frees herself.  This book is a story of a strong woman who refused to endure a life of enslavement, even when she was found by associates of Washington, she did not surrender herself and instead led a fulfilling life on her own terms.

Simone Agoussoye is an incredibly talented artist, you should definitely check out her website below!  Our only concern with the style of art in this particular book is that readers may interpret the story as being for younger children.  The cover art is stunning, we wish all of the illustrations were done in that style.  Because of the seriousness of the subject matters covered in the book, and the sophisticated language inside of it, we would love for the illustrations to match it. However, we love this book very much and the story of Ona Judge is one that everybody should be exposed to. 

This book was sent to us by Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Gwendolyn-BrooksGwendolyn Brooks is one of the most “highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young Black militant writers of the 1960s.”

artist_simone_agoussoye_art_480x480Washington, DC born artist, Simone Agoussoye, “has been honing her skills in portrait artistry for the past several years. Always known for her creative depiction of people, Simone blended her portrait skills with new non conventional techniques which has driven her to become more of a contemporary artist.

Simone’s evolution in portrait artistry has allowed her to explore using materials such as broken crushed glass in her portrait work. The use of this material has sharpen her craftsmanship and execution proving that she is very talented and creative having a drive to continue to grow and develop as an artist. Although known for her portrait artistry her subject of paintings vary from animals, to landscape, and abstract art.

As a child and throughout her life Simone received prizes for her artistic ability and creative talent. From a young age she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up which was an artist. She pursued her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Washington and graduated class of 2011. She is also the recipient of various Awards from Country Fairs and State Competitions.

Simone’s artwork has been showcased at exhibitions in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and more including “Artist Evolutions” at the Art Avenue Gallery located at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD. Her artwork is included in numerous private art collections throughout the U.S. and U.K. She has also created many commissioned works of art.”

 

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez

For ages: 8-12 years old, or a confident reading level.

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Fiction, Historic Figures, Literacy, Trailblazers, Afro-Puerto Rican Figures, Professional Life, Schomburg Library. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is hefty! It is crammed with information about Arturo Schomburg himself, as well as biographies of some individuals that he gathered books about.  Schomburg was fascinated with Black stories, gathering tales of “his history” to share with the world.  This is an incredibly detailed and well-researched book, it has a plethora of very specific information such as names and dates.  These would be confusing to a very young reader, it’s a lot to keep track of.  However the story can easily be vocally edited to match the listener’s comprehension level, and has fantastic vocabulary.  This is an amazing book about a scholar that changed the world by collecting stories of histories erased maliciously.  Arturo Schomburg went on to curate the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, still open and changing lives today.

About the Schomburg Center from their website:

“Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published works, and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world. The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library’s role as a community center. The Schomburg Center’s Traveling Exhibitions program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg Center offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round teachers’ forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and audiovisual materials on related themes.

Scholars-in-Residence Program, established in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which draw heavily on the Center’s collections and resources.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Considered one of the world’s greatest libraries, The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its millions of users worldwide.

The Center provides access to and professional reference assistance in the use of its collections to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each managing materials in specific formats but with broad subject focus. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music.”

Arturo Schomburg is a man that deserves to be immortalized, and this book is a fantastic way to open the doors to knowledge for young readers.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

carolebostonweatherford-259x300-2Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

DIGITAL CAMERAIllustrator Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of film. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, “Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.”

Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1983. In 1984 he completed a year of studies with Harvey Dinnerstein at the Art Student’s League. Eric is a member of the Art Student’s League.

Upon completion of his studies with Mr. Dinnerstein, Eric began his career as a freelance illustrator. Over the next 12 years he completed numerous book jackets and interior illustrations. Such works include Beverly Naidoo’s award-winning “ Journey to Jo’Burg” and its sequel “Chain of Fire;” The complete series of “Encyclopedia Brown;” The complete series of “The Ghost Writers;” “The Apple Classic” series, published by Scholastic Books, “The Terrible Wonderful Telling at Hog Haven; and Gary Soto’s “The Skirt” and its sequel “Off and Running;” as well as the cover of the 1999 Coretta Scott King award winner “Jazmin’s Notebook” by Nikki Grimes.

In 2010 Eric was awarded an NAACP Image award for his work in “Our Children Can Soar” which he collaborated on with 12 notable illustrators of children’s literature. Eric also wrote and illustrated “Grandma’s Records” and its follow up “Grandma’s Gift” which won the 2011 Pura Belpre’ Award for illustration and was also nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award. Eric’s latest book “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library” by Carole Boston Weatherford has gathered rave reviews, and has also won the 2018 Walter Award from the WNDB organization as well as the SCBWI’s The Golden Kite Award and The International Latino Award Honor.

Eric Velasquez lives and works in New York. He teaches book illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC.

Freedom over me; Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life

Written & Illustrated by: Ashley Bryan

For ages: 10-12 years (grades 4-6)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Enslavement, Enslaved People, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Poetry, Historic Narratives, Narratives of Enslavement. 

Summary: This book is comprised of poems telling the stories of 11 enslaved people.  Records of these individuals were found in a historical document owned by the author himself, who developed free verse poetry and personal details of the people who were merely listed with their price on a document.

In Athelia’s poem, the last stanza reads “As slaves, we do what our owners expect and demand of us. As human beings, our real lives are our precious secret.” Bryan brings to life the harsh realities of enslaved life in a way that humanizes and reveals the multi-faceted nature of these enslaved peoples.  After a poem that corresponds with each of the people: Peggy, John, Athelia, Betty, Qush, Jane, Stephen, Mulvina, Bacus, Charlotte & Dora;  another poem tells of their dreams.  While their real jobs and dreams are unaccounted for in written historical documents, they are probably not far off from the dreams of many of the millions of enslaved peoples throughout the history of the United States.  America is a country that was founded with and built on the backs of enslaved people.

These poems are beautiful, and have even more beautiful illustrations paired with them. Bryan does a fantastic job memorializing these 11 people that history all but forgot.  We particularly love the colorful illustration of Bacus’ dreams, showing him blacksmithing and singing a song of freedom.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think that personal details of these and other enslaved people weren’t recorded?
  • How can we memorialize the lives lost through enslavement, if we don’t know so many of the people who were enslaved?
  • What other questions do you have about the process of creating poetry based on just a few simple details?
  • Why do you think Ashley Bryan felt the need to not only write these stories, but also make a book about them?
  • How is this helping our current day viewpoint about the lives of enslaved peoples?

About the Author & Illustrator:

ashleyAshley Bryan doesn’t speak his stories, he sings them, fingers snapping, feet tapping, his voice articulating. His entire body is immersed in the tale. Born in 1923, Ashley was raised in the Bronx, NY. At seventeen, he entered the tuition-free Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering, having been denied entry elsewhere because of his race. Encouraged by supportive high school teachers, Ashley was told, “Apply to Cooper Union; they do not see you there.” Admission was based solely on a student’s exam portfolio. Drafted out of art school into the segregated US army at age nineteen, Ashley preserved his humanity throughout World War II by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask when necessary. After the war, Ashley completed his Cooper Union degree, studied philosophy and literature at Columbia University on the GI Bill, and then went to Europe on a Fulbright scholarship, seeking to understand why humans choose war. In 1950, renowned cellist, Pablo Casals, agreed to break the vow of silence he had taken after Franco came to power in his native Spain. Ashley was permitted to draw Casals and his fellow musicians during rehearsals in Prades, France, where Casals was in exile. Through the power of Casals’ music sessions, something “broke free” for Ashley: “I found the rhythm in my hand.” Ashley returned to the United States, teaching art at several schools and universities, retiring in the 1980s to Maine’s Cranberry Isles as professor emeritus of Dartmouth College.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists

Written by: Mikki Kendall

Illustrated by: A. D’Amico

For ages: YA older teens (mature topics-violence, assault, enslavement, death)

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Activism, Historic Figures, Historical Fiction, Enslavement, Women’s Rights, Suffrage, Women in Politics, Women in Leadership, Assault, Death, Indigenous Voices, POC-Centric Narratives, Marginalized Populations, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, LGBTQ, Black Feminist Thought. 

Summary: Triple A, how much do I love you?  Let me count the ways.  This book is PHENOMENAL. Like, I opened the envelope and immediately got in bed to read it and stayed up over an hour past my bedtime to finish it.  It is That Good.

This book is the definition of fire, it goes hard and I LOVE IT. This book, besides from being beautifully illustrated, does not shy away from the hardship and inequities faced by marginalized populations throughout history.  It is difficult for me to explain the joy that I feel to find a book that centers the experiences of women of color and celebrates their contributions to nearly every movement throughout history.  We’re history buffs here at The Tiny Activist, and I derived incredible excitement from learning so many new names and accomplishments of badass ladies that came before me.  The book is extremely in-depth and well-researched.  The majority of these names I would feel confident in saying aren’t well-known by most of us nowadays, and this is exactly the book we need right now to inspire a new generation of activists and change makers.

This book is absolutely for teens and above, it does not shy away from the ruthlessness that many leaders exemplified in order to clinch their power and leadership especially in a male-dominated world.  The book begins with a global perspective on ancient societies and the rights of women, focuses in on the USA, and then returns for a global look once again.  Nearly every activist movement is given space in this book, and it is nearly 200 pages.  There are only a few movements not mentioned, the Zapatista’s and the Fat Activist movement are two I can think of offhand, but due to the global overview of the book it can still be considered incredibly comprehensive.  Since it is for an older audience, Triple A doesn’t sugarcoat history, especially the inequities faced by marginalized populations.  It emphasizes the unfairness of Enslavement, Jim Crow laws, and various other historical settlements.  There are a few fabulous two-page illustrations showing women of color fighting monsters with names like “Racism” and “Online Harassment” while white women are floating on clouds, protected from having to do the dirty work.  This. Is. What. We Need.  We need critical reflections on public figures, despite the good that they did for humanity, it often came at the expense of more marginalized populations (ex: the racist views that many white women’s suffrage activists held) Indigenous activism is particularly prevalent, a refreshing and glorious part of this book.  CAN YOU TELL I LOVED IT YET?  Listen, I know we say a lot that books are required for every shelf, but this book is the definition of that phrase.  This graphic novel is creating a new standard for books about feminism, history, and badass ladies.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

PJmm2RUhMikki Kendall is a writer, diversity consultant, and occasional feminist who talks a lot about intersectionality, policing, gender, sexual assault, and other current events. Her nonfiction can be found at Time.com, the Guardian, Washington Post, Ebony, Essence, Salon, XoJane, Bustle, Islamic Monthly and a host of other sites.  Her new book Hood Feminism is coming out in February 25th, 2020 and can be preordered here!

Her media appearances include BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, WVON, WBEZ, TWIB, and Showtime.

Her fiction has been published through Revelator magazine and Torquere Press.

Her comics work can be found in the Swords of Sorrow anthology, the Princeless charity anthology, and in the CCAD anthology of 2016.  She has acted as a diversity consultant for writers of fiction, playwrights, fan conventions, and several organizations.

DAmico-headshot-2019Aster D’Amico is a Queer Illustrator living near Ann Arbor, Michigan, who loves all things tea, historical fashion, and fantasy! She enjoys writing and illustrating comics, which Aster finds to be an incredibly powerful vehicle for storytelling; her main medium of choice is Digital, but also very much loves using watercolor and Ink Wash.

D’Amico graduated with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Creative Writing from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2016, and have been freelancing since.