Toussaint L'ouverture: The Fight for Haiti's Freedom

Overview

Toussaint L'Ouverture is revered as the liberator of Haiti. Through forty-one bold tempera paintings, prominent artist Jacob Lawrence has documented the life of this hero and his role in the Haitian Revolution and the emergence of the first black republic.

Currently housed at The Amistad Research Center, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Toussaint L'Ouverture series was first exhibited at the 1940 Chicago Negro Exposition, where it was hailed by critic Alain Locke as one of the ...

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Overview

Toussaint L'Ouverture is revered as the liberator of Haiti. Through forty-one bold tempera paintings, prominent artist Jacob Lawrence has documented the life of this hero and his role in the Haitian Revolution and the emergence of the first black republic.

Currently housed at The Amistad Research Center, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Toussaint L'Ouverture series was first exhibited at the 1940 Chicago Negro Exposition, where it was hailed by critic Alain Locke as one of the most important symbolic narratives of its time. Just as timely today, this sequence of paintings portrays the universal need to live freely and the struggle to achieve the freedom - a struggle of both class and race.

A collection of paintings by Jacob Lawrence chronicling the liberation of Haiti in 1804 under the leadership of General Toussaint L'Ouverture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE: The Fight for Haiti's Freedom Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Jacob Lawrence. S&S, $16 ISBN 0-689-80126-2 As a young Harlem Renaissance artist, Lawrence's first success was a series of 41 narrative paintings chronicling the life of Haitian activist Toussaint L'Ouverture, who in 1791 led a rebellion against the French planters. Lawrence's stylized tempura art, painted predominantly in muted earth hues, is punctuated by luminous splashes of white and red. His striking compositions recreate the drama of how the self-taught Toussaint became the revolt's leader, organizing workers into "a mighty army of liberation" to abolish slavery on both the French and Spanish sides of the island. They also convey Toussaint's despair in prison, where he died before Haiti's liberation in 1804. The battle scenes are a dynamic clatter of spiky, angular shapes and flying hooves; more quiet panels depict Toussaint studiously drafting battle plans and ships ominously arriving from France. Though Myers (Brown Angels) makes some broad leaps that may puzzle kids, he skillfully presents Toussaint's life story in succinct episodes that correspond to the paintings. His clean, effective text supports Lawrence's more complex and powerful paintings, both urbane and elemental in style. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) FYI: The artist whose paintings illustrate this book is himself the subject of a picture book (reviewed below).
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
This compelling book crosses several common boundaries of the picture book genre. Its expressionistic paintings are dark and angular, but fit the story. The text focuses on a perplexing historical figure who is a hero with flaws. The text also faces the challenges of making the complexities of slavery and revolution accessible to young children. L'Overture is an important historical figure who played a pivotal role in Haiti's fight for freedom against the French. Many children may initially resist reading this book, but it's an excellent vehicle for expanding literary horizons and may be a perfect choice for the older reluctant reader.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In the late 1930s, Lawrence painted a series of pictures that documented the oppression of the Haitian people at the end of the 18th century and their eventual liberation in 1804. The paintings are used here to tell readers about the man who lead that revolution. Toussaint L'Ouverture's story is stirring in itself, but paired with Lawrence's paintings, it becomes absolutely compelling. The artist's muted colors and stylized figures show the pain of the oppressed people and the glory of their fight. Myers's understated text is elegantly written, letting the brilliant artwork take center stage. The historical context is clearly explained and the narrative is lively and accessible. This is a wonderful introduction to a man who deserves to be remembered for his brave actions.-Melissa Hudak, North Suburban District Library, Roscoe, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Myers (Glorious Angels, 1995, etc.), inspired by a series of 1930s paintings by Lawrence, pens a straightforward narrative, subtitled "The Fight for Haiti's Freedom," about the freedom fighter Toussaint L'Ouverture.

The story of the leader in the 1791 rebellion of black slaves against owners on the island that is now Haiti is well known. Through his victories, he abolished slavery on both the French and Spanish parts of the island by 1800. However, Napoleon sent many French troops, and L'Ouverture, duped by one of his generals, was captured and died in a French prison. The fight for freedom continued, however, and Haiti became independent in 1804. In an introduction, Lawrence recalls hearing, as a child in Harlem, street orators tell L'Ouverture's story; he responded with 41 stark, stylized paintings in a somber, matte palette, all reproduced here. Myers makes the story accessible, underplaying the text in light of the expressive paintings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689801266
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/19/1996
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.87 (w) x 11.35 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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