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Recommended Books for Black History Month

January 24, 2020

I recommended this book to be a Sibert Award contender since I loved it so much and felt it was a beautiful way to tell the story of Maya Angelou in verse. The illustrations by Tonya Engel are gorgeous. Dr. Maya Angelou is the epitome of a model for African Americans, and anyone frankly, who was dealt a hard life and still rose up. Dr. Angelou became the poet of the people and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by our nation's first African American president, President Obama.

Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou

The second book I recommend is Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from Football Field to the Art Gallery.

My husband is a big football fan. A Chiefs fan all his life. So I have been exposed to hours of football and Super Bowls. As an amateur watercolorist, a football player turned artist struck my interest when I saw this book on my public library shelves. How could such a physical person who made his living tackling people switch to a sensitive creative career? 

Ernie Barnes didn't want to play football, but because of his size (and a sly donation to his mother's church by a coach), Ernie played. But even while he participated in the sport, he was still sketching and observing the artistry in the movements, and the colors and energy of the players and the game. So he painted. He eventually became the official artist of the New York Jets and his artwork was displayed in galleries. His first football painting, The Bench, is permanently hung in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I love the message about not having to choose one or the other. Ernie was both.

The third book I recommend is not about an African American, but about a white girl who saw that black people were being treated differently in the 1950s and 60s. She protested, joined sit-ins and marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was even arrested for siding with the blacks and their civil rights. She believed that you didn't have to change the world, just change your world. The story is co-written by her son, Loki Mulholland. 

She Stood for Freedom link



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