Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America

by Tonya Bolden

The first recorded birth of an African child in North America occurred in 1624. From... read more

The first recorded birth of an African child in North America occurred in 1624. From that day forward, African American children have struggled to grow up in a nation that has often viewed them as inferior. African American parents, grandparents, and elders have always tried to give their children as much happiness as possible, although a simple, carefree childhood has been next to impossible. Well-selected quotes from primary source material serve to illustrate this engaging account as much as do the historical photographs, paintings, and drawings of African American children and their personal effects. Some of the children represented here, such as Phillis Wheatley, Ruby Bridges, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jackson, became famous even as children, but most were resilient children trying to lead ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances. Their stories have been passed down both orally and in writing, and are documented here as a testament to their strength, intelligence, and determination that children in future generations would have better lives. As one elder told his granddaughter after explaining how he had had his eyes burned out as punishment because he had taught himself to read: “Promise me that you gonna go all the way through school, as far as you can. And one more thing, I want you to promise me that you gonna tell all the children my story.” (Ages 8–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

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