Amistad, 1992. 978-0064461207
Winner of the 1992 Coretta Scott King Book Award
Synopsis: Since they were first brought as captives to Virginia, the people who would become African Americans have struggled for freedom. Thousands fought for the rights of all Americans during the Revolutionary War, and for their own rights during the Civil War. On the battlefield, through education, and through their creative genius, they have worked toward one goal: that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be denied no one. – from Amazon.com
Why I picked it up: I wanted a non-fiction book about the history of Africans in America for younger readers, and Meyers’ book fit the bill.
Why I finished it: The reader can almost feel the weight the author has taken on, the weight of the many that came before him and fought for freedom and equality. It gives us a brief history of some of the greatest minds of their generations and how they contributed to American history and African American history. It gives us insight into the fight waged even among the Blacks for recognition and acceptance. As a white female, I won’t ever hope to understand the struggle experienced by African Americans, but learning and having knowledge of the struggle makes me more aware of the fight. I was intrigued at the tidbits of the author’s own history that were added to the narrative, illustrating for the reader the reasoning behind Meyers’ shouldering of the yoke of his ancestors. Life was not always easy for African Americans in the United States, and there are many places in America where things are still segregated, which tells me that the struggle for freedom lives on in the current and future generations. Will there ever be true equality between the races? Perhaps not, but I am not so disillusioned as to believe that there won’t be a common ground found that will pave the way for a nation of peoples who are all equal, on every level and in every sense of the word. This book is an excellent history of a people and a nation, a history of which we should take heed. It is a book about self-discovery as much as it is about the discovery of the potential for change and the need for it to occur. It may be a book aimed at young people, but it can be enjoyed and appreciated by all ages, races, sexes, and creeds.
Other related materials: One More River to Cross: An African American Photo Album by Walter Dean Meyers; A Young People’s History of the United States: Columbus to the War on Terror by Howard Zinn, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff; A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff; Leon’s Story by Leon Walter Tillage, collage art by Susan L. Roth; The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; With Every Drop by James Collier and Christopher Collier; Sounder by William H. Armstrong, illustrations by James Barkley; The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill; Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges