Hardcover, 56 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
Source: Raincoast Books
In the introductory note, the author admits to a certain frustration that accompanied him when writing this book. The book was commissioned for the Black History Month and Smith Jr. rightfully wondered why Black History should be important only one month in the entire year.
This little book is so very important, especially in recent political climes in the US with the whole civil unrest due to the accusations of police brutality focusing majorly on Black Americans. Smith Jr. brings into focus those Black Americans who are not as famous as their more visible counterparts such as Martin Luther King. It was humbling and inspiring to read about people who were born in very difficult conditions and faced such interminable odds to succeed anyway. Or those who really are unsung heroes, who sacrificed their lives even for a country and people that more often than not showed them nothing but cruelty.
I don’t know much about American history or the civil wars. But people like Madam C. J. Walker who died the richest black woman in America on May 15th, 1919 and Bessie Coleman who would not let anyone stop her from being a pilot are inspiring. I love that Smith Jr. did his research and brought into focus people who otherwise would be buried in history.
The illustrations are well done and suit the tone of the book. The poems that accompany each person do sometimes seem forced but I wonder if that’s not because I am an adult reader.
This book would be good in a classroom where teachers could use it as a resource for projects about history or simply to talk about slavery. The book presents a wonderful way to talk about conflicts and the importance of not losing hope and believing in oneself because the pages of this book are full of people who did exactly that.