Monday, February 25, 2013

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed America, a series of biographical sketches of ten accomplished men from colonial times to the present, were written to inspire young black men "hungry for role models."

But this book will inspire an even broader audience. I know as a child, biographies fascinated me. Could I do that?  I would wonder as I read each one.

But this book by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, is for everyone, including adults like me, who attended school at a time when the only books about a black man found on the shelf of biographies at the local Carnegie library was about George Washington Carver.  I read it and was fascinated by his clever mind and life. I would have eagerly read books about other black scientists, intellectuals and leaders if there were any on the shelf to read. It wasn't for lack of subjects.

I wondered as I read Hand in Hand, how many people today are familiar with Benjamin Banneker, who wrote an almanac in the 18th century? And what about A. Philip Randolph's work as a labor organizer with the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, in the 1930's?  I knew nothing about him and I have always been a reader. The other eight men, that included Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, were well known to me, though many of the details of their lives were not, including the complexity of personal motivations, family details, and the exact nature of the obstacles they successfully faced.

It wasn't just the choice of subject that kept me turning pages. Andrea Davis Pinkney's writing is poetic and evocative, making these brief, but thorough biographies, great for reading aloud. This book should be available for all middle school kids, their older siblings, and their parents.

1 comment:

  1. Andrea Davis Pinkney is outstanding. She deserves the awards she has received!