A poem by a celebrated Chicago playwright and long beloved within the Black History Month tradition about the achievement, potential, and ancestral joy incubated within the black experience.
Readers who Google “Hey Black Child” will come across bevies of joyous videos of children as young as 3, both solo and in chorus, reciting this poem to enthralled crowds of families and friends. First penned in 1975, it’s often been attributed to such black literary greats as Countee Cullen and Maya Angelou (a phenomenon discussed in the author’s note). Yet the real genius behind this poem is Perkins, a longtime committed poet, playwright, and social worker in Chicago. He writes: “I’m honored that my poem has been associated with these two gifted writers, but I’m glad the world can now learn about the poem’s true roots.” To accompany the poem, Caldecott honoree Collier brings the amazement with beautiful, brilliant, full-color illustrations. By showing present-day children, their future accomplishments, and the legacies that have enriched and will continue to enrich their lives, as he explains in his note, Collier achieves strong and layered images that make sitting with the rhythmic and repetitious words of Perkins’ poetry a grand occasion. This book dazzles in every way and is bound to inspire so many more viral videos of black children speaking their abundant futures into existence.
All black children need to know Perkins’ prideful poem, possibly by heart, because it’s really that doggone good. (Picture book. 3-10)