This February we’ll be celebrating Black History Month in the Fox Hill Learning Commons! We’ve got a great display of books available for check out to learn more about African Americans who have contributed so much to our country and our culture. Here are just a few highlighted books. For this post let’s focus on music and poetry!
Martin Rising – Requiem for a King
by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Any time I see Andrea and Brian’s names on a book, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’m going to love it, and Martin Rising is no exception. With beautiful poetry and art, the book traces the last months of Dr. King’s life. His final campaign for justice was supporting the Memphis sanitation workers who were fighting for safer working conditions and fair pay. The workers were members of the AFSCME union and Dr. King wanted to make sure the workers were treated fairly and with dignity and respect. While most of us are familiar with Dr. King’s commitment to racial equality and equal rights, we may be unaware of his deep commitment to the labor movement and working people, like those members of the Memphis AFSCME union, whose rights and lives he cared about very much. The book helps to highlight this important chapter in Dr. King’s life, and shows a side of him and his beliefs we don’t always see. On April 3, 1968, King delivered his famous I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech to the union AFSCME members to inspire them during their strike. The following morning on April 4th, Dr. King died. For more information on this final chapter in Dr. King’s life and his important involvement with labor and union rights, check out this beautiful and touching book today!
by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Bryan Collier
This wonderful picture book biography tells the story of jazz musician Trombone Shorty. Trombone Shorty grew up amongst the vibrant musical scene of New Orleans and started playing music when he was just a child. He loved the jazz parades, clubs, and musical atmosphere that were all around in his hometown, and he loved music so much he’d often fall asleep at night while still playing his trombone! When he was still shorter than the trombone he played, he was discovered by legendary musician Bo Diddley, and this has led to a life immersed in jazz that has brought Trombone Shorty and his music all over the world. The beautiful artwork of Bryan Collier truly brings the story to life!
Libba – The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten
by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Libba is a brand new book that tells the amazing and unlikely story of musical legend Elizabeth Cotten. As a young girl she was fascinated by the guitar, but was never able to afford her own. She was also left handed and the only guitar she had access to was a right handed instrument. This didn’t stop her though from wanting to play the instrument she loved, and despite her hardships, developed her own unique way of learning and playing guitar, upside down and backwards! After many years of not playing, she was rediscovered when she was a grandmother, and was greatly admired by legendary musicians like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Leadbelly. To learn more about this incredible woman and her unlikey rise to becoming a musical legend, check out Libba today!
Before John Was a Jazz Giant
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls
This wonderful picture book tells the story of the childhood of Mr. Murphy’s favorite jazz musician, John Coltrane! Before John set off on his own musical and spiritual journey that would be the driving force of his life and work, he was inspired by many people and events that shaped his world view, and set him on his path to greatness. While reading, might I recommend a Coltrane soundtrack?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of our Black History Month display! Visit the Learning Commons for so so so much more!