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Books on Black Heroes and History Appeal to Children, Adults Alike

Authors Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher walk readers through their turbulent journey in “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” Among these athletes are John Brooks, David Albritton, and Jessie Owens. These 18 African Americans, according to Draper, “challenged discrimination on the world stage…. The unprecedented effort is largely known, and their stories are largely forgotten.” 

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Little ones will love turning the pages of “The ABCs of Black History,” a book filled with lively verse and colorful faces (illustrations by Lauren Summer) in all shades of brown—just like theirs!

Author Rio Cortez also scrolls the alphabet letter by letter giving lessons in important words, words that our children need to not only hear every day but know and live: A is for the anthem; B is for beautiful, brave, bright, bold; C is for the community, church, civil rights … and more.

Layers of history will unfold like the pages of this accessible resource are turned. An education in pride is definitely offered in this one.

The history of Black people in America has been turbulent. The pain, sorrow, grief, and daily life are documented through song and poetry in a book edited by Kevin Young  called “African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song.” It is said to be the “most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present.”

Organized in eight sections, readers can explore works by Wheatley, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn B. Bennett, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Anne Spencer. No style or poet has been ignored in this robust collection. 

Youth and adults alike will feel the soul of the history in this collection.

Despite the exclusionary practices of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, countries worldwide, including the US, agreed to participate. That year, 16 Black men and two Black women defying the racism of both Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South traveled to Berlin to represent America. They were dubbed “the Black auxiliary.”

Authors Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher walk readers through their turbulent journey in “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” Among these athletes are John Brooks, David Albritton, and Jessie Owens. These 18 African Americans, according to Draper, “challenged discrimination on the world stage…. The unprecedented effort is largely known, and their stories are largely forgotten.” 

Explore one of the hidden gems of American history in James Otis Smith’s graphic novel “Black Heroes of the Wild West.” Throughout the colorfully illustrated pages, readers follow three Black heroes as they take control of their destinies and stand up for their communities in the Old West. 

Young readers will come face to face with the likes of Stagecoach Mary, who carried a rifle and a revolver as she met trains with mail, then drove her stagecoach over rocky, rough roads and through snow and inclement weather; law enforcement officer Bass Reeves, the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River; and Texas cowboy Bob Lemmons, who said: “I grew up with the mustangs … I acted like I was a mustang … made them think I was one of them.” 

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