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STRONG VOICES by Tonya Bolden Kirkus Star


Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing

by Tonya Bolden ; illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-257204-2
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

As the subtitle indicates, 15 landmark American speeches, each preceded by an introduction from Bolden that directly conveys needed history to the under-12 set.

This collection treats readers not only to well-known oratory, such as Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” Frederick Douglass’ “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July,” and Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” (rendered here in standard English as “I Am a Woman’s Rights”), but also to some that are not as famous but still a necessary part of the discourse about what the American experiment meant and still means to different people affected by it. Seneca chief Red Jacket’s explanation to white American missionary Jacob Cram that “we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you; we only wish to enjoy our own” is powerfully resonant today, for instance. What separates this collection from other anthologies that celebrate spoken patriotism is the way Bolden gives readers a critical historical context—explaining, for example, that Patrick Henry was enslaving black people even as he fiercely opposed Britain's enslaving the white colonists with unreasonable taxes. Velasquez contributes luminous oil portraits, rather disappointingly portraying Truth as an angry black woman but otherwise ably giving strong faces to these strong voices.

A golden celebration of the multicultural voices who demand that the U.S.—and the world—do better. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline, sources, permissions) (Nonfiction. 10-14)