Young, Gifted and Black
Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins
Wide Eyed Editions
‘All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in stories. That’s why we’re highlighting the talent and contributions of black change-makers from around the world – for readers of all backgrounds to discover.’ So say the creators of this splendid book in their introduction.
It’s a sterling objective and one that is achieved with panache.
The title itself comes from Nina Simone’s song, ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’ and the book features 52 iconic activists, politicians, film directors, actors, entrepreneurs, athletes and other sporting legends,
writers, artists, scientists, singers, musicians and more from around the world.
Jamia Wilson introduces each one with a short biography that encompasses details about their birth (and death if relevant), their accomplishments and achievements, and includes a powerful quotation. Here are a few:
‘Reading is an exercise in empathy, an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.’ (Malorie Blackman);
‘Children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but the content of their character.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ Shirley Chisholm;
‘It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.’ Wangari Maathai.
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ Nelson Mandela.
The order of presentation is seemingly random and the majority of those featured are from the 20th century although there are also some earlier icons such as Mary Seacole and Alexandre Dumas.
Andrea Pippin’s illustrations are rendered predominantly in shades of pink, green, yellow, red and each double spread has a pleasing unifying design and colour palette.
This is a fine tribute to the black changemakers included, an inspiring read for youngsters and a must have book for Black History Month.
I’ve signed the charter