Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lucille Clifton and Black History Month

I've been thinking about doing a few posts for Black History Month as it's winding down... but you know what? I've been through all of my vintage books and although I have a ton of really wonderful books written about Africans or the African American experience, none of them were actually penned by black people. I almost couldn't find any that were published before 1990. Thus, back to my internal debate over the lack of diversity in vintage books continues, one that sadly I'm not schooled enough on to argue. So... in lieu of a formal African American History Month post, I'm putting a question out there to any of you historians in the house. Who was the first black author/illustrator for children who broke through? The only one I can think of would be Lucille Clifton, an amazing poet and writer who passed away on Saturday. Who were the others published before her?

13 comments:

Dawn D. Lion said...

Donald Crews won the Caldecott honor for Freight Train in 1979. Though my favorite by him about the AA experience, Bigmama, is from 1991.

Scribbler said...

I totally forgot about Donald Crews.... Freight Train coming up this afternoon!

john & catherine said...

What about Eloise Greenfield? Honey, I Love was published in 1978--really wonderful poems.

Dawn D. Lion said...

LOL, I can't forget about Freight Train - with a 20 month old I think I read it 5 times a day at least!
Further research also led me to Pat Cummings - won the Coretta Scott King award a couple of times in the 80's. Just Us Women looks really beautiful.

Esme Raji Codell said...

I think John Steptoe had a big breakout book with STEVIE, which he wrote when he was 16. Leo Dillon is also an African-American illustrator who was publishing early on in collaboration with his wife, Diane (the team did HONEY I LOVE, which another poster mentioned...)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for recognizing this issue. This has been a problem of mine. I want my girls to see more diversity in books but the vintage ones do clearly lack this. I look forward to reading the posts to your question. Dee

Scribbler said...

Why Mosquitos Buzz in Peoples Ears was huge when I was little....

http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2007/11/why-mosquitos-buzz-in-peoples-ears.html

Anonymous said...

We love, Why Mosquitos Buzz. A thrift shop find thanks to you. And we also really love, Rain. Purchased from you :) But I never realized who the illustrator was. Thanks Dawn and Scribbler. Dee

Esme Raji Codell said...

Another nice resource for people looking for African American diversity in children's books: The Brown Bookshelf,
http://thebrownbookshelf.com/

Anonymous said...

Thanks Esme. Dee

Scribbler said...

Have tracked Just Us Women and Stevie down at the library... Hope to get both up today or tomorrow (that is if the books are indeed there!)

If anyone can think of any others let me know!

Antmusic said...

"Langston Hughes, American Poet" by Alice Walker (The Color Purple) from 1974 was illustrrated by Don Miller the artist whose mural dominates the main lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington (he died in 1993)(the book was re-illustrated later by Catherine Deeter).

Alice Walker also wrote the picture book "To Hell With Dying" (illustrated by Catherine Deeter).

Paula said...

I really enjoy the books by Lorenz Graham. Especially the as the book flap states "retelling of Liberian African bible stories"

Every Man Heart Lay Down (1971) – the Nativity story

A Road Down in the Sea (1971) – Exodus and the flight from Egypt

David, He No Fear (1971) – David and Goliath

God Wash the World and Start Again (1973) – Noah and the flood

Hongry Catch the Foolish Boy (1973) – the Prodigal Son

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