by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.
This is an excellent, easy to read historical account of Black Americans struggling against slavery in the years from 1619 to 1861. Hamilton is a brilliant writer and story teller. She uses all her talent and experience and the wealth of her grandfather’s storytelling legacy to put together this collection of short biographies of African Americans who made a difference in our nation’s history. The focus in this book is not about what White people did to Blacks; it is the history of what Blacks did to seek freedom and justice for themselves and their families. There were free Blacks living in America during all of these years. Let no child or adult think that Blacks living in slavery just accepted it as their lot in life. Here is a long list of real life people who worked and fought and struggled to gain power and change the laws of the land. They used their education, their creativity, their faith and their communities to bring about change through legal channels and, when necessary or desperate, through covert or strategic methods.
These names should be known:
James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
Olaudah Equianna Gustavous Vassa
Elizabeth Freeman AKA Mom Bett
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Frederick Douglas)
Henry Box Brown
Hamilton writes simply and clearly, giving the important points and adding details that bring the characters to life. Reluctant readers will be drawn in and children who love adventure or drama will be quickly engaged. Read more reviews of the book at this site and biographical information on Hamilton here. Virginia Hamilton writes for a wide range of ages in a variety of genres. If you haven’t experienced her yet, you have a treat in store!