My Heroes, My People: African Americans and Native Americans in the West

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Overview

An artist's look at how the West was won by some -- and lost by others.

This unique album introduces readers to African Americans and Native Americans who had a role in the westward expansion of the United States, as fur traders, stagecoach drivers, cowboys, soldiers, nurses, mail-order brides, and tribal chiefs. Through Morgan Monceaux's striking portraits (executed in oil pastels, paint, markers, and collage) and the accompanying ...

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Overview

An artist's look at how the West was won by some -- and lost by others.

This unique album introduces readers to African Americans and Native Americans who had a role in the westward expansion of the United States, as fur traders, stagecoach drivers, cowboys, soldiers, nurses, mail-order brides, and tribal chiefs. Through Morgan Monceaux's striking portraits (executed in oil pastels, paint, markers, and collage) and the accompanying biographical sketches and historical notes, readers meet some of the men and women -- black and red -- whose names have come down to us through legend and history. Some are well known; others were minor players on a great stage whose lives can be traced through a photograph, a letter, or a government record. Taken together, they give us an extraordinary picture of the West and an appreciation of the human need to be free -- for as African American settlers were enjoying newfound freedom, their Native American neighbors were fighting to preserve theirs.

Presents brief portraits of an assortment of African Americans, Native peoples, and men and women of mixed heritage who played roles in the history of the American West.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a companion volume to his Jazz: My Music, My People, self-taught artist Monceaux pairs brief biographical essays with mixed-media portraits of people of color who were "significant in the history of the Western United States." The book opens with a section featuring legendary figures Montezuma, Pocahontas and Toussaint L'Ouverture (who seem oddly placed in a book about the American "landscape beyond the Mississippi"), then shifts to present 19th-century African-Americans, grouped primarily by profession. While the stories of little-known African-Americans are the focus here, the next section profiles prominent Native American tribal chiefs and leaders and their often disastrous interactions with whites. The brevity of the book's text does not allow Monceaux and Katcher to present more than the barest outlines of their subjects' lives, but their presentation has a brisk, crisp style. The real draw here is Monceaux's arresting artwork (originally shown in a gallery). He renders his stylized, dignified portraits in pastels, markers and paint and adorns them with buttons and fabric, toy guns and playing cards. He encircles each portrait with text in a style similar to that of Faith Ringgold's work; the paintings will inspire both deep examination and contemplation. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Inspired by his African American and Native American background, portrait artist Morgan Monceaux has combined his vivid compositions (done in a unique mixture of oil pastels, paint, markers and collage) with biographical sketches and background information on about forty African Americans and Native Americans who have influenced the history of the American West. The portraits include women, cowboys, fur traders, lawmen and legendary leaders. Since outlaws are also included, the subjects are not all technically heroes, although all played a role in United States history. Most of the biographies are a page or less in length. An introduction, index, further reading section and source notes are included.
Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-The 36 heroes of the title include fur traders, cowboys, outlaws, buffalo soldiers and their nurse, a stagecoach driver, chiefs, and myriad other "people of color" who played a role in developing our country. Most of these Native Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, and individuals of mixed ancestry were part of the American West, but the section titled "The Legends" goes as far back as Montezuma and Pocahontas. For each hero, there is a short biographical note ranging from a phrase to two pages of text. These are appetizers, not full meals. Historical information is presented, but judgments are left to readers. The true focus of each of the entries is a buoyant, colorful portrait done in mixed media. Monceaux has added phrases and sentences to the art, as well as feathers, shells, cloth, coins, and even a pair of toy guns. The result is a striking, personal expression full of energy. An attractive layout with generous white space contributes to the high-quality presentation. An interesting and up-to-date annotated bibliography adds a finishing touch.-Darcy Schild, Schwegler Elementary School, Lawrence, KS Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The New York Times
Aside from their basic visual and mental appeal, the new portraits have many ingredients that seem on target for today's sensibility. They further revisionist attitudes toward history, and their lettering and graffitilike linear elaborations bring in a sense of street life (The New York Times).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374307707
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.96 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Morgan Monceaux was raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, and now lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also the author of Jazz: My Music, My People.

Ruth Katcher is an editor of children's books. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2011

    Excellent

    The color reproductions of the Raw Creative's work is astonding. I've been lucky eneough to view the artworks in person. And the artist's drive and ongoing comment of his 'Heroes' is admirable. His hand is true intuitive. This man never stops exploring his gifts and equally sharing them.

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