My Black History Challenge

With Black History Month almost gone, I hang my head in shame once again.  My desire to share a book a day for the month of February was overlooked so I am going to slightly redeem myself with two books each day for the next week.

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I will start with a fabulous book Brick by Brick by Charles R. Johnson, Jr.  My son read this poetic account of the building of the White House to me on a trip to soccer practice.  So much of African American history has been overlooked in what we call history.  It is almost like so much of our history as Americans is a half- truth or “the rest of the story”.  I am not necessarily knocking our history professors because I know the need to sometimes get the “big picture” but at the expense of whom?  Who would Alexander Graham Bell be without Lewis Latimer or Granville T. Woods?  The contributions of Benjamin Banneker are endless.  So we now come to my story, Brick by Brick.  It was surprising (however, I don’t know why) to find that slaves helped to build the White House.  The verse that continues to give the reader a realization that Americans built the White House:

Black hands,
white hands,
free hands,
slave hands.

My son is eleven and was taken by the fact that slaves were used to build the White House but their owners kept the money for their labor.  He saw the injustice of the time and questioned it, however he was also taken at how clever one was to learn a new skill to earn money to buy his freedom.

Books about slavery for children have to be written carefully.  Even though the content is historical we must make sure that we approach it in a delicate way to give information and not our feelings.  They just are not ready for that yet.  This book is very well written.  You feel the injustice of a people but also see that working together we all built this nation.

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