From the Publisher
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Booklist, Top Ten Religion Books for Youth (2010)BookPage.com
"A stirring tribute to African-American history and to the important role religious faith has played in it over the centuries, The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford takes readers on a lyrical journey through the past. Using the Beatitudes from the Bible as a platform for her extended free-verse poem, Weatherford traces the arc of African-American history, starting with the slave era and ending with the swearing-in of President Barack Obama. Along the way, Weatherford alludes to a host of notable African-American figures, including Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks and Marian Anderson — individuals whose determination and endurance helped make freedom a reality. Tim Ladwig's beautifully realistic renderings of U. S. Colored Troops, Freedom Riders and civil rights organizers give the book a documentary feel. With The Beatitudes, Weatherford — winner of the Caldecott Honor for her bookMoses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom — offers an inspiring review of black history and the ways in which spirituality has guided its leaders. The book includes brief biographies of the famous figures who appear in Weatherford's poem. This is a special testament to the legacy of a people — a book that's sure to be treasured by future generations of readers."
School Library Journal "Weatherford uses the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12 KJV) as backdrop for a powerful, beautifully produced book. In free verse, she relates the story in first person — 'I am the Lord your God,' — tracing the African-American journey from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Each page begins, 'I was with . . .' as Weatherford focuses on a particular person (Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr.) or an event (slave ships, freedom rides, right-to-vote movement). Verses, short and meaningful, carry forth a poignant message, reinforced by Ladwig's inspired, richly hued, expressive illustrations. The words of the Beatitudes, which are printed in their entirety at the book's beginning, run across the bottoms of the pages in softly colored type, making a constant connection to the pictures. In addition, the artist's choice of perspective is exemplary: angry white hecklers back an image of a hopeful-looking Ruby Bridges; Lincoln looks down on a crowded Mall as Marian Anderson sings to the throngs, and Martin Luther King, Jr., gazing into a reflecting pool, sees the smiling faces of two girls (one black and one white). Regardless of race or religion, this is a book to share with today's children who live in a discordant world too often lacking in kindness and civility."
Booklist "Using the Beatitudes of blessings found in the Sermon on the Mount as an underpinning, Weatherford highlights the faith that bolstered the African American struggle for freedom and civil rights. Running along the bottom of the pages, the words serve as a refrain to punctuate Ladwig's elegant watercolors and lend a dreamlike quality to the stirring depictions. The art begins with a portrayal of an anonymous man enduring the Middle Passage, a single beam of light falling across his still-hopeful face, and ends with the much-anticipated inauguration of President Obama. This powerful picture book charts the progress of African Americans in the U.S. in much the same manner as Michelle Cook's Our Children Can Soar. However, instead of a relay-race-style handoff of accomplishments, Weatherford's text illustrates the spiritual presence in the lives of those making a difference. Whether 'ringing the church bells' or 'beating the drum for freedom,' the Lord was with them."
Kids Lit (blog) "Weatherford has taken Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and created a poem that follows African-American history from slavery through to the election of Barack Obama. . . Weatherford's words are strong and ringing. They both celebrate and mourn, moving ever onward to a brighter future. The book shines with a beautiful combination of faith and history. Ladwig's illustrations add to that shine with strong people shown in moments of strength. . . Highly recommended, this is a book that truly captures the strength of a people. "
School Library Journal
Gr 1–6—Weatherford uses the Beatitudes (Mathew 5: 3–12 KJV) as backdrop for a powerful, beautifully produced book. In free verse, she relates the story in first person—"I am the Lord your God,"—tracing the African-American journey from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Each page begins, "I was with…" as Weatherford focuses on a particular person (Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr.) or an event (slave ships, freedom rides, right-to-vote movement). Verses, short and meaningful, carry forth a poignant message, reinforced by Ladwig's inspired, richly hued, expressive illustrations. The words of the Beatitudes, which are printed in their entirety at the book's beginning, run across the bottoms of the pages in softly colored type, making a constant connection to the pictures. In addition, the artist's choice of perspective is exemplary: angry white hecklers back an image of a hopeful-looking Ruby Bridges; Lincoln looks down on a crowded Mall as Marian Anderson sings to the throngs, and Martin Luther King, Jr., gazing into a reflecting pool, sees the smiling faces of two girls (one black and one white). Regardless of race or religion, this is a book to share with today's children who live in a discordant world too often lacking in kindness and civility.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
The Beatitudes serve as a backdrop to African-American history from enslavement to the present day. Narrated by God, each page contains a few powerful sentences about a specific moment, explaining how He comforted His people at the time. God was the star guiding Harriet Tubman north, the lamp lighting the way at Tuskegee, the microphone for Marian Anderson and the shoes of the citizens who walked during the bus boycotts. Some of Ladwig's watercolor-and-pastel illustrations, particularly Emmett Till's casket scene and the beatings in Selma, mark this as a picture book for older children. Light, larger type with the words of the Beatitudes scrolls along the bottom of each illustration. Unfortunately, the text is cut off by the page edges and often does not match the historical scene above. For example, "Blessed are they that mourn" accompanies the illustration explaining the founding of Black churches "where African Americans / could praise the Lord and shout ‘Hallelujah!'" Distracting design elements mar an otherwise heartfelt book. Included are brief biographies of each luminary. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)
Read an Excerpt
From slavery to Civil Rights
By Carole Boston Weatherford
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Copyright © 2010 Carole Boston Weatherford
All right reserved.
Chapter One Since the first African American churches were founded in the 18th century, black religious organizations have brought biblical values to bear on the freedom struggle. Black ministers preached against the institution of slavery, and slaves sang spirituals promising deliverance from bondage. African Americans drew on that same faith during the segregation era. And when the masses rose up against racial oppression during the Civil Rights Movement, they were emboldened by a belief in a just and a compassionate God. They trusted that God was with them and that he would set them free.
I am the Lord your God. I was with the Africans who were torn from the Motherland and cramped in holds of ships on the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. I heard them chant: Kum ba ya, kum ba ya.
I was with Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Varick, who founded churches where African Americans could praise the Lord and shout "Hallelujah!" I rang the church bells.
I was with Harriet Tubman when she fled slavery. As she led others out of bondage, I was the star guiding them north.
I was with the U.S. Colored Troops who fought to end slavery during the Civil War. I beat the drum for freedom.
I was with Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune, who built colleges and lit the way for young minds. I was the lamp.
I was with Marian Anderson when she sang spirituals on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from performing in their concert hall. I was the microphone.
I was with Rosa Parks when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus. And I was with the citizens who walked rather than ride buses during the boycott. I was their shoes.
I was with the mother of fourteen-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till. As she stood at his casket, sobbing, I was the shoulder she leaned on.
I was on the Freedom Rides and at the lunch counter sit-ins. I sat alongside the protesters.
I was with Martin Luther King Jr. when he shared his dream of brotherhood at the March on Washington. And when peaceful protesters in the Selma to Montgomery march were beaten by police on an Alabama bridge, I nursed the wounded.
I was with six-year-old Ruby Bridges when angry whites heckled her as she entered an all-white elementary school to become its first black student. I held her hand.
I was with Mississippi political organizer Fannie Lou Hamer when she got sick and tired of being sick and tired and demanded the right to vote. When she breathed song into the struggle, I shook the tambourine.
Excerpted from THE BEATITUDES by Carole Boston Weatherford Copyright © 2010 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Excerpted by permission of William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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