(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.
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.
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.
6) And it has a GREAT LIBRARY STAFFED WITH TWO GREAT LIBRARIANS!
7½) Also this great interview, and I like Rebecca’s new book an awful lot.
What are YOUR kicks this week?