Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, by Glenda Armand, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Lee & Low Books, 2015
As our first great African American Shakespearean actor, Ira Aldridge was celebrated throughout Europe. But in pre-Civil War America, he wasn’t allowed onstage. Anyone interested in theater, will be thrilled by the story of an actor who defied racial barriers and brought a new kind of naturalism to the acting of his day.
Two Friends; Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, by Dean Robbins, Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Orchard Books, Scholastic, 2016
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass sit in front of a crackling fire, drink tea and discuss how to extend civil rights to women and African Americans. Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they each came to be the visionaries they were. This is an engaging introduction to two heroes with whom we should all be familiar.
Malcolm Little; The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, by Ilyasah Shabazz, Illustrated by Ag Ford
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
Malcolm X remains a controversial figure in American history. But knowing more about his life makes clear how much he did to break down unjust racial barriers. He was a great man who stood up against oppression and who, without question, made America change for the better.
With Books and Bricks; How Booker T. Washington Built a School, by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
Albert Whitman & Company, 2014
It was illegal for Booker T. Washington, a slave, to learn to read, so he taught himself. After the Civil War Booker worked for years as a coal miner, until he found a school to attend. After graduation his goal was to create a school so other former slaves could more easily gain an education. Booker’s story demonstrates that education is power!
Waiting for Pumpsie, by Barry Wittenstein, Illustrated by London Ladd
All the other Major League teams have integrated. But the Boston Red Sox have refused for over a decade. It’s July, 1959. The Sox are in last place. That’s when it happens! The Sox call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minor leagues. Seen through the eyes of a young Red Sox fan who looks like Pumpsie, the moment comes alive.
Take a Picture of Me James VanDerZee, by Andrea J. Loney, Illustrated by Keith Mallett
Lee & Low Books, 2017
It took pioneers in every aspect of life to break down the racial barriers established by slavery. As a prominent photographer of the early 20th century, famous for his portraits and images of everyday life in Harlem, James VanDerZee was one of those pioneers. American history is incomplete without the stories like his.