Hard Labor: The First African Americans, 1619

Overview

Erased by Time

In 1619 twenty Africans stepped foot on American soil. They came not as slaves, but as indentured servants. They knew if they could hold on and finish out their sentences, they would be free. They came with dreams of the future and a vision of life as good as any other person's, black or white.

Who were these people? How did they get here? What happened to them? Much of the information about them -- even their names -- has been ...

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Overview

Erased by Time

In 1619 twenty Africans stepped foot on American soil. They came not as slaves, but as indentured servants. They knew if they could hold on and finish out their sentences, they would be free. They came with dreams of the future and a vision of life as good as any other person's, black or white.

Who were these people? How did they get here? What happened to them? Much of the information about them -- even their names -- has been lost. Stories about them are incomplete, and facts are blurred by centuries of neglect. But their stories are worth knowing and keeping and sharing, for they are a part of the American saga.

This is their story.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-The authors begin with an overview of slavery, and the informative text dispels misconceptions about the arrival of Africans in the New World. The text explains that they came not only as slaves but also as indentured servants, that they owned land and servants, accompanied European explorers and conquistadors, and were instrumental in settling North America. Full-page, black-and-white illustrations support the narrative. The research is not supported by a bibliography or source notes, and the lack of a table of contents and index makes it difficult for students to find specific facts. Barring these shortcomings, this well-written offering will stimulate interest and spark discussions.-Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The McKissacks tell the story of the first African-Americans in America in an addition to the Milestone Books series. Unfortunately, they take a straightforward story and make it confusing. They try to let young readers know that some of the black settlers were actually indentured servants, capable of earning freedom and owning property and slaves themselves. The most interesting story is of one Anthony Johnson, a servant who earns his freedom, marries, owns land, and eventually wins a lawsuit that returns his escaped black "servant" to him. Investigation into the Web sites provided by the authors makes it clear that Johnson owned a slave, not a "servant." At times, the authors awkwardly address the reader directly-on the subject of slavery, for instance: "Reading about it too can be equally as stressful." Or "remember, slaves were not slaves simply because they were Africans." In other places, the vocabulary is too challenging for the intended audience. There are many stories in this volume that would make interesting history for the young reader; too bad they are sloppily combined into one choppy offering. (timeline, Web sites) (Nonfiction. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689861499
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 1/6/2004
  • Series: Milestone Series
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia C. McKissack is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including Goin' Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award
winner; The Honest-to-Goodness Truth; Let My People Go, written with her
husband, Fredrick, and recipient of the NAACP Image Award; The Dark-Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, recipient of the Caldecott Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fredrick McKissack has nearly 20 years experience as a writer and an editor. His articles, op-eds, and reviews have been published in The Washington Post, Vibe Magazine, and others. He lives in Ft. Wayne, Ind. with his wife, Lisa and their son, Mark.

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