Monday is Martin Luther King Day, and 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. How do we make the impact of his words resonate for young people?
Kadir Nelson's glorious images in I Have a Dream (Schwartz & Wade/Random House) accompany the closing passages of Dr. King's speech. These are the most resonant lines, the ones adults hear in our heads when we think of his words. Nelson takes Dr. King's refrain and brings it home to children growing up today. With a portrait of Dr. King's own four children, and with the image for his dream that "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers" in what resembles a game of Ring-Around-the-Rosy, Nelson removes any background or scenery so that the children could be of any time or place. (The book includes a transcription and recording of the full speech.)
|Andrea Davis Pinkney|
Andrea Davis Pinkney's Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, focuses on other courageous men who helped Dr. King get to that historic day, August 28, 1963. They include A. Philip Randolph, one of Pinkney's chosen 10, who organized the march, and who also plays a key role in Tanya Lee Stone's Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's First Black Paratroopers. Randolph's plans to organize a similar strike in 1941 resulted in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the Fair Employment Act, without which the Triple Nickles likely would not have formed.
All three books demonstrate how many people struggled--and continue to struggle--to realize the promise of Dr. King's dream.
This article first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.