Monday, January 08, 2007

Many Thousand Gone

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:

Jenny Slew
James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
Crispus Attucks
Olaudah Equianna Gustavous Vassa
Elizabeth Freeman AKA Mom Bett
Chloe Cooley
Gabriel Prosser
Denmark Vesey
Josiah Henson
Tice Davids
Nat Turner
John Malvin
William Still
Robert Purvis
Sojourner Truth
Solomon Northup
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Frederick Douglas)
Harriet Tubman
Henry Box Brown
Anthony Burns
Margaret Garner
Dred Scott

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!

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