Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
Hand in Hand
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Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney
ISBN 9781423142577
Jump at the Sun/Disney, 2012.
5 stars
Keywords: african-american-history andrea-davis-pinkney biography civil-rights hand-ten-black-men-who-changed-america history social-change

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney

Andrea David Pinkney (Sit-In) gives young readers a sweeping history made personal through the individual biographies of 10 African American men, stretching from Benjamin Banneker in 1731 through to President Obama today.

Because Pinkney includes differing points of view, in particular W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington in the mid–19th century; and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid–20th century, young people may examine for themselves the arguments for a separate black society versus integration, and come to their own conclusions. Pinkney also lays out how Frederick Douglass, at the turn of the 19th century provided the foundation for the debates between these two pairs of men. Because he believed in equality for all human beings, Douglass was also a champion for women's rights. The author engages young people to think critically about their ideas, where they contradict one another, where they coincide, and how each was shaped by his early life, culture and society. What all 10 share in common is their passion for reading--and writing.

Pinkney's narrative voice evokes the oratory power of these men, many of whom took to the soap box or pulpit. Brian Pinkney's watercolor portraits evoke the spontaneity of sketches, resulting in deeply psychological renderings of each of the 10 men. Vignettes in each chapter highlight a milestone event--a Pullman Porter's cap to signify A. Philip Randolph's role in achieving the porters' labor agreement with the Pullman Company; a line of citizens walking past a bus in Montgomery, Ala., symbolizes Dr. King's leadership in the bus boycott there. What comes through here are the personal journeys of each man and how their passions and convictions help further the dreams of the men who followed.

Young people will come away from this beautifully designed volume believing that they can be part of the change they want to see in their world. Where they see injustice, unfairness, poverty or faithlessness, they can take action to remedy the situation.

This review is adapted from a longer one that first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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