Tag Archives: Modern Black Freedom Struggle

Granddaddy’s Gift

Written by: Margaree King Mitchell

Illustrated by: Larry Johnson

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Modern Back Freedom Struggle, Voting Rights, Family, Activism, Racism, Strength, Resilience, Education, Own Voices, Historical Fiction. 

Summary: This story is told from the perspective of a young girl, who everyone calls Little Joe on account of the fact that she follows her grandfather Joe around everywhere. She and her siblings live with their grandparents on a farm in the South.  Little Joe tries to skip school one day, but her grandpa catches her and on the drive to school she complains about the ragged books the school gets handed down from the white schools.

Things change a bit for the family when Granddaddy volunteers to try and register to vote, agreeing to take the test on the state constitution.  He studies and passes, but the community church is set on fire and burns to the ground as retribution for exercising the right to register.  Undeterred, more members of Little Joe’s community vow to study and register themselves to vote.

This story is an introduction to the struggles that African-Americans faced trying to register to vote before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.  The violence within the story is light, with no one being injured in the church fire and instead using the arson as reason to have more folks register to vote.  The story is appropriate for children, and we would consider the book a primer about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle for younger audiences, to prepare them later for more complex storylines surrounding the topic of both the struggle and the voting registration activism that took place (ex: SNCC, bussing, boycotts, etc.). Great read with beautiful illustrations!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

FullSizeRender-1-624x468Margaree King Mitchell is the author of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop (Simon & Schuster), Granddaddy’s Gift (Scholastic), When Grandmama Sings (HarperCollins), The People In The Park (Watershed Books), and Woman In The Pulpit (Castlewood Books). From her “about” section of her website:

She has been “featured on the PBS show Reading Rainbow, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is on a multitude of school lists of required reading throughout the United States. It is also reprinted in several international textbooks.

The team of David Wohl, Kenneth Grimes, and Susan Einhorn has adapted Uncle Jed’s Barbershop into an award-winning musical featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus as Uncle Jed.  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop was a featured show in the New York Musical Theater Festival and won the National Music Theater Network’s Directors Choice Award.

In my books for children I use history to encourage students to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives.  If they can see the accomplishments of people who lived long ago who achieved their dreams in less than ideal situations, I hope students will be inspired and know they can do even more with their lives.

Several years ago I visited with students who didn’t believe they were special.  They certainly didn’t believe they had special gifts to share with the world.  I was surprised that no one in the entire room thought they had within them the power to change the world.  I asked why.  They said no one had ever told them so.  Therefore, whenever I speak to children, I try to inspire them to dream big dreams for their lives and believe those dreams can come true.

In my teen fiction book, The People In The Park,   I explore what happens in the lives of teens when something devastating happens through no fault of their own.  Teens are blamed for lots of what’s wrong in the world.  But there are teens who are good students and good citizens who  successfully navigate life changing situations.  I thought it would be interesting to show through a story how they work through their issues and return to normal, while becoming better for having gone through the experience.

I hope teens groups use The People In The Park for discussion.

Teens throughout the country are weighing in on Lauren (the main character in The People In The Park) and her situation.  Lively discussions are taking place on whether teens agree or disagree with Lauren and the decisions she makes.

I wrote Woman In The Pulpit after listening to several friends, who are female ministers, talk about their experiences in the pulpit. Through the book I attempt to show the challenges women in the ministry face as they seek to carry out their calling.”

6923840Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Larry Johnson attented The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.  For over thirty years Johnson was the Editorial Sports cartoonist for The Boston Globe, The National Sports Daily, ESPN’s Quickie page and Weei.com.

Larry has been an illustrator for over twenty five years in book  publishing, magazines and agencies. His work includes assignments for Fortune magazine, Lee Low, Scholastic, Little Brown, The Boston Globe, ESPN.com. Hill Holiday and the Sporting News.  He has illustrated biographies on Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph and The Wilt Chamberlain story.  His work has been acknowledged in New York’s Society of Illustrators.

As a Fine Artist, Johnson has had much success selling his original work to celebrity clients such as Oprah Winfrey and Vernon Jordan.  Corporate clients include Pepsi-Cola, Hallmark and The National Football League. His work has been seen on The Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Johnson works in all mediums.  His ability to capture a likeness as well as draw people of every ethnicity makes him very sought after talent for commissioned assignments. His greatest asset is his ability to work in a plethora of styles from a literal rendering to wonderful children’s books.e to edit.

Little People Big Dreams: Josephine Baker

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Agathe Sorlet 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Biography, Historical Figure, Musician, Women in Music, Trailblazer, Segregation, Racism, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, WWII. 

Summary: Josephine was a born performer, and found her fame dancing on a chorus line in New York City.  Due to ongoing segregation and general racist American society, she moved to France to work on a new show.  Josephine became incredibly famous, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a film.  She also adopted a bunch of animals and a dozen children!  During WWII, Josephine became a spy in the French Resistance.  She’s really just an overall badass. Josephine eventually moved back to the States and became engaged in activism for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

We love Josephine and are so glad this book exists that also talks about all of her achievements besides being an amazing performer!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

50.jpgAgathe Sorlet is an illustrator based in Paris, France!

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Written by: Dee Romito

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Segregation, Historical Figures, Historical Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Community Organizing. 

Summary: Georgia Gilmore is both a mother of 6 and a cook at a lunch counter during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She is inspired to do more fundraising for the boycott, and for the community organizing and activism surrounding segregation.  Georgia spearheaded efforts of local women who cooked secretly in their homes and then sold it to others in the local community.  The profits were then used in the fundraising efforts and donated to the cause.  Georgia operated under the utmost secrecy and through her efforts she was able to donate huge amounts of money, always saying that “it came from nowhere” in order to not implicate herself or anyone else.  However, when her job finds out she’s involved with the organization efforts, she is fired.  MLK Jr. helps Georgia update her kitchen and open a home restaurant, where she is able to continue the fundraising and hold meetings for key Civil Rights leaders!

Georgia Gilmore is a lovely example of how a person can partake in solid on the ground  organization efforts and create incredible ripples of change throughout a community.  So many organizers and activists have been erased from retellings in favor of uplifting a few key individuals in a simplified narrative.  Having these stories told showcase how intricate community efforts are, and how everyone can become involved in making change.  This is a crucial message to get across in times of political and social change, we have much to learn now about the efforts of those before us.  Students today are incredibly lucky to have children’s books like this to learn about heroes such as Georgia.  After reading this book, we have hope that young people will have better access to these stories instead of learning about organizers like Georgia Gilmore as adults.

This book was sent to us by little bee books but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sleeves_2_origDee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. She’s also an active PTA parent, Co-founder of the Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators (BNCWI), and the PAL Coordinator (for published members) of West/Central NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

​Dee has lived in Buffalo, NY for most of her life and loves it there. (There’s a lot more to this place than winter snow and it truly is The City of Good Neighbors.) She’s had her share of travels around the world and short stints elsewhere, including a semester in London, a summer waitressing near the beach in North Carolina, and a first year of teaching in Atlanta.

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

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.

 

 

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist

Written by: Cynthia Levinson

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Historical Event, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Civil Rights, Family, Love.

Summary:  Audrey is a nine-year-old girl, living in Birmingham in 1963.  The book opens with Audrey’s mother cooking a huge dinner for their family friend, Mike.  Mike turns out to be a nickname, and the family friend is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr! At the dinner table is talk of desegregation efforts, and Audrey dreams of days when she can shop where she wants, have brand new schoolbooks, and better seats at the movies.  One Sunday, Mike visits their church and tells those crammed into the pews to hear him speak to fill the jails and disobey unjust laws.  Audrey notices that adults don’t step forward, and instead look away embarrassed making excuses for why they couldn’t be arrested.

One night, another family friend named Jim announces a new idea to fill the jails with children rather than adults.  Bravely, Audrey steps forward with other children. She joins the hundreds of others marching but realizes that she is the only protestor from her elementary school and is in fact the youngest person at the march!  Singing freedom songs, the children march and are arrested.  Sentenced to a week in juvenile hall, Audrey comes to find that jail is not glamorous. There aren’t clean clothes and the food is bad.  She is questioned by four white men; the first ones Audrey has ever spoken to! She notices though, that every afternoon more and more children arrive at the jail, some soaking wet from being sprayed with firehoses.  By her fifth day, the jail is full!  The community has fulfilled their goal, and no more children can be arrested.  Two months after Audrey is released, Birmingham completely wipes the segregation laws from their lawbooks.

This book is significant in the way it treats the characters.  Audrey is not seen as exceptional in her actions, only in her age.  The illustrations show careful thought and detail, the background individuals vary in size, shape, wardrobe, and more importantly skin tone.  In the back there is both an author’s note and a timeline of events surrounding the children’s march in Birmingham.  There is also a list of sources, a book recommendation for older readers, and Audrey’s favorite hot buttered roll recipe!  Both author and illustrator are familiar with the struggles of oppression, and one can tell by the way that background characters are treated and illustrated.  The movement is explained as a group effort with many moving pieces rather than Audrey single-handedly bringing about change to Birmingham.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Audrey became so brave?
  • Do you think it would be easier to be in a juvenile detention center with a lot of people you knew?
  • How do you think Audrey was feeling when she realized her actions were creating change for her entire community?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle, and how resistance occurred for much longer than just in the typically talked about decade of 1954-1964.  What sorts of happenings in the movement were occurring since the end of the Civil War?
  • Read more about the Birmingham Children’s March, and what it inspired people around the country to do.  What other actions were a direct result, and how were youth vital to the movement’s success?
  • Look at photos or watch some interviews with other individuals who participated.  What can we learn from them, and other activists who came before us?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cynthialevinsonCynthia Levinson lives in two places with her husband, who is a law professor. Most of the year, they hang out in Austin, Texas. In the fall, they’re in Boston, Massachusetts. Cynthia didn’t always want to become a writer but a college friend always encouraged her. The friend was right but Cynthia had to wait for the right time. Cynthia is awed by writers who also have day jobs and children at home. It was only after her children got through college and paid off those bills that she could take the risk of leaving my job at a state education agency and dip a toe into writing.  She’s written lots of magazine articles for kids about pandemics, about Moko, the mind-body problem, civil rights, and a bunch of other topics. Creativity takes a lot of work. And, frankly, as a nonfiction writer, she self-describes as not all that creative. Like people who can work, raise children, and write, those who can make up stories, settings, characters, and emotional valence astonish Cynthia.

Vanessa-new-225x300Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants allchildren to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

​Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.

The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

 

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: Elementary students and older

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Racism, Jim Crow, Segregation, Entertainment Industry, Historical Figures, Civil Rights, Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

Summary: This book spans the life of Lena Horne, legendary vocalist and performer.  Lena was born to parents that constantly hustled and were nomadic at times.  At age 2, she became the youngest member of the NAACP!  Lena got used to traveling with her mother doing vaudeville shows and sometimes staying with her grandmother where Lena took music and dance classes.  Her grandmother forbade her to consider a career in show business despite Lena’s interest in the entertainment industry.  Lena attended school until the Great Depression hit, when she became a chorus line dancer at The Cotton Club in Harlem and was coached by her mother.  Soon, she became a Broadway performer and cut a record at age 18.  Lena began to travel but experienced segregationist racism in many places, and her manager began to introduce her as Cuban instead of Black.  Eventually, MGM offered Lena a movie contract-the first one to be offered to an African-American actress!  Despite this, she had trouble securing movie roles due to her activism and white women wearing makeup in movies to look Black.  Lena sang at Truman’s inaugural ball, had two children, and was divorced.  She married a white music director partially to help her career, and it worked (but she learned to love him!). She took time off from performing and became a foot soldier for the activist efforts to end segregation and worked with the NAACP, National Council for Negro Women, and spoke at the March on Washington.  Lena eventually returned to the big screen, and continued to perform for years to come.

This book is very thorough, being clear about the hardships that Lena endured throughout her life and highlighting her activism.  It mentioned other individuals doing the same work she was doing, in some places by name and in some places not.  The author highlights how hard Lena works without reducing her to exceptionalism.  This is a long book made for older elementary students and covers a wide range and variety of topics, including fantastic vocabulary associated with the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.  An Author’s Note is in the back along with sources and resources for further learning!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable while traveling?
  • Have you ever performed?  What was it like?
  • How do you think Lena felt when she was introduced as Cuban?
  • Why do you think it was important to Lena to take time off from performing and help in the activist efforts of the 50’s & 60’s?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about several of the lesser known individuals mentioned in the book such as Medgar Evers.  What did he do that was beneficial to the movement, and why do you think he isn’t well-known today?
  • Who were some other activist/performers like Lena Horne?  What did they do that was unique to their own experience and character?
  • Listen to some of Lena’s songs, or watch a video of her singing on Sesame Street.  What is special about her performance style?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

CaroleBostonWeatherford-259x300Carole 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.

71zHtxPJLqL._US230_Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!