7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #444: Featuring Ekua Holmes

h1 August 9th, 2015 by jules

“I was just six when I dragged / my first bag down a row of cotton.”
(Click to enlarge spread and read poem, “Delta Blues,” in its entirety)


I’ve got two spreads today from Carole Boston Weatherford’s new biography in verse of Fannie Lou Hamer, called Voice of Freedom (Candlewick, August 2015). The book is illustrated by Ekua Holmes, who is new to picture books but is a working fine artist. Her collage pieces in this book are simply exquisite.

In free verse, Weatherford tells the story of activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who was known as the voice of the civil rights movement and fought for voting rights for African Americans and racial equality. Weatherford takes readers from her childhood in the Mississippi Delta all the way to her lifelong service award in 1976 from the Congressional Black Caucus. In between—and with great reverence and passion for her subject matter—Weatherford touches upon Hamer’s many accomplishments, including Mississippi’s Freedom Summer, her establishment of grassroots Head-Start programs, her work for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, her appearance at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in New Jersey, and her efforts toward the passing of the Voting Rights Act.

There are many moving and quite powerful moments here. In a poem called “Black Power,” Weatherford writes:

I mourned whites who died for freedom.
I have lived long enough to know
that no race has a corner on decency.
I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up.
Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody
and hope to see God’s face.
Out of one blood God made all nations.

After Hamer’s own struggles to vote, due to the unfair literacy tests many African Americans were given, she ran for Congress in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. “I meant to prove,” Weatherford writes, “that anyone, / black or white, rich or poor, / could get involved in American politics. / I cast my first vote for myself.

Gives me goosebumps, I tell you. Hamer’s story is an incredible one.

Also incredible is the art. Holmes’ textured, patterned collages offer up a visual feast for one’s eyes. I wish I could show you every spread in the book, but if you go find a copy on library or bookstore shelves, you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s another spread below. And here’s her website with lots more art.


“… Once, my father managed to buy a wagon, plow, three mules—
Ella, Bird, and Henry—and two cows, Mullen and Della.
But a white neighbor poisoned the livestock. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and read poem, “Fair,” in its entirety)


VOICE OF FREEDOM. Text copyright © 2015 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ekua Holmes. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) My picture book grad course is over. I’ve got lots of grading this weekend (which is why I’m tragically behind on all email having nothing to do with teaching), but I enjoyed teaching it.

2) My girls and I read Little Women this summer. It was my first time, too. (No, really.)

3) And then we watched the 1994 movie adaptation, and my, that was well-cast.

4) School has begun. I’ll miss more time with them, but I’ll also have quiet days once again for getting work done.

5) The oldest is in middle school (and a brand-new school), and the school thus far is really great.


7) This!

7½) Also this great interview, and I like Rebecca’s new book an awful lot.

Bonus) This beautifully written post.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

12 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #444: Featuring Ekua Holmes”

  1. Good morning, Imps!

    The book looks lovely, Ekua & Carole. That cover is like a burst of sunshine and spirit.

    Jules: Congratulations again, Teach! Best of wishes with the grading. What did you think of Little Women? Which character fits each member of your family? I can’t believe she is in MIDDLE SCHOOL already.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Performing
    2) Working it out
    3) Managing
    4) Care
    5) Adjusting
    6) Sticking to it
    7) It’s okay

  2. Oh how I love the works of Carol Weatherford. And Ekua Holmes art is gorgeous. So important for these books to be in libraries.
    July’s. Course finished, sigh, yes. But oldest in middle school? Wowza! Love kick 7.
    LW: love numbers 5,6 and 7.
    My kicks:
    1. Hearing hummingbirds.
    2. Last week at the coast.
    3. Ocean waves.
    4. Sunsets.
    5. Poems in the mail.
    6. Writing poems.
    7. Preparing to enter ms to Pitch Wars.
    Have a great week.

  3. What a powerful life, and what a powerful story. The vibrant illustrations are a perfect match.

    Jules – happy grading! Middle school??? So fun that you read the book together and then watched the movie – I love doing that too. I saw that HuffPo piece on fb and shared. And thank you for sharing Adrienne’s post – my mom worked at the public library and I think of libraries as they are shown in Wings of Desire – places where angels congregate.

    LW – Hooray for performing! And I also like 2,4,6 and 7.

    Jone – glad you had a great time at the coast. Hummingbirds always seem so magical to me – impossible little flying miracle.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Midnight soccer game last night. We won.
    2) Sleeping in with cool breezes this morning and a snoring Daisy.
    3) Coffee.
    4) Finished reading “Man Walks Into A Room,” by Nicole Krauss. I was kind of stunned at times by the clarity of the writing..
    5) My neighbors & I creating our own little informal neighborhood watch – I am so lucky to live where I live.
    6) Going to a Hillsboro Hops baseball game – sunshine, beer and hotdogs – perfect summer night.
    7) Daisy and I survived the dreaded Bath Day and after sulking for a few hours, she forgave me when I put steak in her dinner, and rewarded me with her beautiful pittie smile.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  4. Thanks for the link, Jules. The response to that post has been heartening.

    I haven’t been to the Kicks in a while, and it made me smile a lot reading the Kicks, especially Little Willow’s, which, as ever, make me want to DO SOMETHING.

    I am still wrapping my mind around Piper starting middle school. It seems like crazy talk, but it is wonderful, too.

    My Kicks this week:
    1. People responded in such kind and positive ways to that post Julie linked to.
    2. I believe I have at long last found something my older cat Ella will eat. Her turn form eating anything to becoming fussy was abrupt and confusing for all of us.
    3. I am grateful for my cats just in general. They make my life better.
    4. I read Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow, which was fantastic.
    5. I downloaded the SNL app finally and lost some time exploring it, watching skits, and laughing, laughing, laughing. Jules, do you have this thing? I don’t know how I lived without it so long.
    6. I just listened to a Dear Sugar that was entirely focused on letters from teenagers (http://www.wbur.org/2015/07/30/dear-sugar-episode-twenty). It made me feel so many things–really just very lovely.
    7. I got to run a 5K yesterday morning with a friend who was running her first 5K since having major surgery to have a tumor removed from her chest this past January. She is healthy, she is strong, and I am grateful.

  5. Little Willow, we love Jo best of all. Enjoyed the novel very much. I love your last kick.

    Jone: What are Pitch Wars? I bet this is something I’m supposed to know that I don’t know.

    Rachel: Ooh, is that a NEW book from Krauss? I really liked her first novel. I must look into this.

    Adrienne: No, I don’t have that app yet. I’m kinda scared it’ll just eat up all my time, but I should do it anyway. Happy 5K!

  6. Jules – I don’t think its new (other than to me) I think it was published in 2002. She was recommended to me and that was the first book of hers I could find via the library’s ebooks. It was very very good – looking forward to reading more of her work.

  7. I can’t wait to read Voice of Freedom, I’m sure I’ll want to review it on my blog, Books4theCuriousChild.com.

    My Kicks for the week include:
    1) Celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary!
    2) Staying at a bed and breakfast
    3) building and enjoying an indoor fire. Lovely. Brings back old times.
    4) Meeting 6 horses on a trail (with riders). I love horses, but rarely see them in the city.
    5) Discovering Kim Norman’s work. I’ll be reviewing Puddle Pug soon and mentioning her ‘singing’ picture books. I wished I was a kid again!
    6) I get to review The Circus by Sarah Kaufman (discovered on 7 imps!)
    7) I get to celebrate my birthday this Friday! How good is that?!

  8. Hi, Susan — and happy birthday in advance!

  9. I have a copy of this gorgeous book. I love it–and it makes me sad, because I was working on a book about Fannie Lou Hamer myself. I am now abandoning it because Carole and Ekua’s book is so good. Sniff. But now everybody will know what a remarkable life Fannie Lou Hamer led, and that is very very good.

  10. Such a beautiful book – if you have to have a slavery book to read for school – and you do – this is one to have. The artwork makes it …just amazing.

  11. […] if you haven’t seen Ekua Holmes’ marvelous artwork in her just-published debut, you are missing […]

  12. […] and Marjory Wentworth’s Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (Candlewick), illustrated by Ekua Holmes and coming to shelves in March. I’m following up today with a couple of spreads from the book […]

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