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Your legacy : a bold reclaiming of our enslaved history
2021
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Publishers Weekly Review
In this heartfelt debut, Williams offers an impassioned account of the enslaved African people whose descendants became today's African Americans. The narrative surveys the abundance of cultures, languages, and kingdoms that comprise Africa at the genesis of the Black chattel slavery in the summer of 1619, as well as the Black social and civic leaders who have shaped African American history and culture. Engel's nature-centered, effervescent mixed media illustrations, rendered in acrylics, oils, printmaking, and collage on paper and wood, depict enslaved African peoples in vivid detail, including varied skin tones; elaborate clothing designs; and intricately plaited hairstyles. Weaving a connection between young Black readers and the historic figures and events that preceded them, the author-illustrator team highlights traits that they posit allowed Black people to survive historic oppression, among them strength, love, ingenuity, and grace. Engel further includes numbered spreads depicting notable Black inventors, such as Madam CJ Walker and George Washington Carver. A strikingly worthy introduction of 400 years of Black history to young readers, including the roots of American slavery, effectively conveying that slavery is far from the extent of Black history and influence. Ages 4--8. Author's agency: Creative Artists Agency. Illustrator's agency: Morgan Gaynin. (Sept.)
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 2--A celebration of Black excellence that highlights numerous notable figures throughout history and their accomplishments. Black history begins on the continent of Africa where their language and culture flourished. Williams covers, in picture book form, the arrival in 1619 of European slave traders who took Africans away from their homeland and stripped them of their families, their names--even their language. Thankfully, they didn't let not knowing the language of others who were enslaved deter them, and they came up with a brand-new language called Pidgin. The enslaved ancestors retained their music as a connection to Africa, an art form that would one day play an important role in their escape to freedom. People such as Robert Smalls and Harriet Tubman appear in the text; so do brilliant inventors like Benjamin Boyd and Henry Montgomery who were not allowed to take credit for their creations while others reaped the benefits. That didn't stop them and others like them from continuing to innovate. This picture book recounts different points in African American history and does so in a way that is understandable to a picture book audience without watering it down or lessening the impact. The African ancestors' resilience is awe-inspiring, and this book does an outstanding job of telling their story and honoring them. Each page spread is a piece of artwork worthy of a museum. The blend of colors and media draws readers in to appreciate every detail. VERDICT A celebration of African ancestry with enthralling artwork and a compelling and easy-to-understand story that belongs in every collection.--Myiesha Speight, formerly at Towson Univ., Baltimore
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