The voice of an older African American woman begins this book with a Prologue that explains what she is about to relate. She will only tell it once so listen closely. It won't be an easy story to hear because the experiences weren't easy to live. There will be things "that make you cringe, or feel angry. But there are also parts that will make you proud, or even laugh a little." Her story traces the history of African Americans in America from the earliest days of slavery up through the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Westward Expansion, the World Wars, Jim Crowe, the Civil Rights Movement and on to our own times. What were the challenges, the agonies, the triumphs of the generations of African American families who came before us? The story is a personal one that reflects Kadir Nelson's family and is intended to inspire others to go back and learn what their families have endured. The history becomes more intimate even while representing hundreds of years and thousands of people who lived and survived against incredible adversity. The story is powerful and the illustrations give great weight and create the visual presence of these courageous, determined people. The faces will capture you. It's as though you're meeting these people yourself in the moment and you don't know what to say.
I would say Kadir Nelson put his heart and his soul into this book to touch our hearts and our souls. This is wonderful history and an important record for children to read and witness. Ages 9 and up