Pinkney, Andrea & Brian Pinkney. Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America. Jump at the Sun Books: New York, 2012. ISBN 9781423142577
This book goes over the lives of 10 black men who made a tremendous difference. Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Phillip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barack H. Obama II.
In the preface, the author states “I wanted to create a testament to African American males, a comprehensive book that would also serve as a thank-you gift to all the positive black men who have touched my life and the lives of people I will never meet.” That’s exactly what this is.
The cultural markers in this book are seen most in the language used and the descriptions of the men and their lives, and the truthfulness of their struggles.
“Mary had beautiful skin the color of dark coffee, and meaty arms for hugging her son tightly. Alfred was a butterscotch-colored man with a big mouth for telling the world about his dreams of travel.” (pg. 65)
“1. The Ku Klux Klan had set his house on fire.
2. His foster family had taken great pleasure in their racist remarks.
3. A school teacher had insisted that black people were not fit to become attorneys.
4. White government officials had sent his mama away.
5. Though it was never proved, it was very likely that white men had killed his daddy.” (pgs. 161-162)
This book celebrates,the achievements of ten of the most prominent and change effecting African American men.
Not only does the book address the works of these men, but it also gives a detailed account of their lives, showing us who they were, where they came from, and why they chose to lead the way they did. My favorite chapter was on President Obama, who’s story starts with his unique parentage and upbringing.
This book was amazing. I learned so much about each man, even though I learned about them in school. This book goes a beyond what is taught in the traditional classroom., indeed, teaching a side white people wouldn’t want shared. Accompanied by beautiful watercolor pictures, and a laid back style of writing, this book will be sure to keep the kids attention.
I thought the writing was appropriate for the age it’s written for. It doesn’t read like a boring text book, but like someone talking to you.
“He was a baby who wriggled in his mama’s arms. Wouldn’t keep still, that boy. He wanted to move!” (pg. 85)
Each chapter is accompanied by a poem, which I love. I love incorporating poetry in any and all possible ways. Here’s the poem accompanying Thurgood Marshall’s chapter.
“His hands threw the book
at school segregation.
Argued Brown vs. Board of Ed.
on its crooked head.
Legal Mind Supreme
for the good of his people.
Put black students at the head of the class.
Gave them the chance to raise their hands
high in the air.
So that every teacher everywhere
On justice for all.” (pg. 104)
The subject matter was amazing. I learned a great deal. For example, I didn’t know that President Obama spoke Indonesian fluently.
“By the time Barry was in third grade, he spoke Indonesian fluently.” (pg. 206)
The only problem with this book is some of the wording (i.e. referring to people as idiots rather than acknowledging their ignorance.)
This is a wonderful book that will teach kids a lot and uplift African Americans.
“In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens—“Brother Authors”—inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together “like a chain.” Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today’s young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text.”
From Publisher’s Weekly:
“Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team’s vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man’s influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: “[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he’d held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he’d been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm’s attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look more white.’ ” Brian Pinkney’s portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama’s life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading.”
From Horn Book:
“Presenting ten biographical vignettes in chronological order-Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack H. Obama II-the Pinkneys create a testament to African American males that, taken together, tells one big story of triumph (a story that, incidentally, spans American history). Each profile, fifteen to thirty pages long, includes an introductory poem, a watercolor portrait, and spot illustrations. Brian Pinkney’s illustrations are a perfect marriage of line, color, and medium and complement Andrea Pinkney’s colloquial and ebullient text. “Benjamin Banneker was born under a lucky star. Came into this world a freeborn child, a blessing bestowed on few of his hue.” Each profile is compact yet comprehensive, but since virtually all of these men were eloquent writers and speakers, it’s mildly disappointing that more of their own words didn’t find their way into the text. Still, this is an impressive accomplishment, and a worthy companion to Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul.”
Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson ISBN 978-0061730795
If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anne Kamma ISBN 978-0439567060
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford ISBN 978-0786851751
Books by Andrea Davis Pinkney:
Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters ISBN 978-0547906041
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra ISBN 978-0786814206
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down ISBN 978-0316070164
Who is your favorite African American social justice warrior and why?