Inspire the next generation of world changers with these new picture book biographies of African American women leaders! These beautiful books are perfect for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or any time of year.
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New Picture Book Biographies of African American Women Leaders
Not Done Yet is a wonderful new book by Tameka Fryer Brown. It introduces a new generation to the inspiring life of changemaker Shirley Chisholm. Shirley Chisholm was the first African American in US Congress, and the first woman and African American to make a serious run for US President.
Not Done Yet pulses with Chisholm’s driving sense of purpose, which propelled her to persist in fighting for change despite all the incredible obstacles she faced (and overcame). The text, written in narrative free verse, captures the positive energy Chisholm exuded, and the incredible illustrations radiate with Chisholm’s vibrancy and style. It’s a wonderful book to inspire young readers to get involved and stand up for change. The book includes a timeline of her life and resource material for further investigation.
Choosing Brave (recent winner of a Caldecott Honor) is a tribute to the love between a mother and son, Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till. It gives an account of how Mamie Till-Mobley’s heartbreak over the brutal murder of her son propelled her into the spotlight and helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.
Mamie Till-Mobley defied those who wanted to gloss over the death of her son Emmett Till. When he was murdered after supposedly whistling at a white woman. She did not allow him to be quickly buried in Mississippi but instead had his disfigured body brought back to Chicago and displayed in an open casket, forcing the world to look squarely at the terrifying consequences of racial hatred. She spoke up when others urged her for silence, keeping his name at the forefront of growing indignation over civil rights abuses in the South.
Choosing Brave brings Mamie Till-Mobley’s story of bravery and dignity to life. It will help to inspire readers to always make the difficult choice to choose what’s right. The book concludes by poignantly reminding us just how relevant this story is today, and how many mothers continue to lose their sons and daughters to senseless racial violence.
When US President Biden signed into law the legislation that made Juneteenth a national holiday in 2021, an elderly woman was by his side. 94-year-old Opal Lee had made it her mission to see Juneteenth become a national holiday. The new picture book Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth celebrates Lee’s role in raising awareness about Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the US. (More specifically, it marks the anniversary of when news of the end of slavery reached enslaved people in Texas).
Lee appears in the book as a storyteller at a Juneteenth celebration, an elder passing on to a new generation her experiences as a child celebrating Juneteenth every year. She also tells the children older stories, passed down from her own elders, about the horrors of slavery and the joy people felt when they were finally free. It is a timely book, as so many people are just becoming familiar with Juneteenth, though it has been a fixture in Texas for many years.
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free is a lovely tribute to Opal Lee and her determination to see the dawn of freedom became a national celebration.
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