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Collection Spotlight: Black History

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The Undefeated

Winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal A 2020 Newbery Honor Book Winner of the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.  

Black Heroes of the Wild West

This graphic novel by JAMES OTIS SMITH celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as “Stagecoach Mary,” a cigar-chomping, card playing coach driver who never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own.
 

The Port Chicago 50: disaster, mutiny, and the fight for civil rights

An astonishing World War II military story of civil rights fromNew York Times bestselling author and Newbery Honor recipient Steve Sheinkin. A National Book Award Finalist A YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist ASchool Library Journal Best Book of the Year On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. The Port Chicago 50 is a fascinating story of the prejudice and injustice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights. This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum, including history and social studies. "Sheinkin delivers another meticulously researched WWII story, one he discovered while working on his Newbery Honor book,Bomb...Archival photos appear throughout, and an extensive bibliography, source notes, and index conclude this gripping, even horrific account of a battle for civil rights predating Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

Minty: a story of young Harriet Tubman

They called her "Minty." When she grew up, she became Harriet Tubman, the courageous and heroic woman who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. But she was just a little girl for a while--and this is her story. Minty, short for Araminta, was a feisty and headstrong young slave, whose rebellious spirit often got her into trouble. She told stories to her doll, released animals from traps, and, above all, dreamed of running away. And when her father began to teach her the skills necessary for escape, she listened carefully, and learned. . . .  *"Rich with melodrama, suspense, pathos, and, of course, a powerful vision of freedom. This exquisitely crafted book resonates well beyond its few pages."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award An ALA Notable Book

The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small's life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy and rose to the rank of captain and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics. This new edition of The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls, originally published in 1971, features Louise Meriwether's original narrative, now illustrated by the colorful paintings of renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.

Voice of Freedom : Fannie Lou Hamer, spirit of the civil rights movement

Stirring poems and stunning collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of equal voting rights.

"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Integral to the Freedom Summer of 1964, Ms. Hamer gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention that, despite President Johnson’s interference, aired on national TV news and spurred the nation to support the Freedom Democrats. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.