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NOW IS YOUR TIME! by Walter Dean Myers


The African-American Struggle for Freedom

by Walter Dean Myers

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Dec. 30th, 1991
ISBN: 0064461203
Publisher: HarperCollins

What happens when a gifted novelist (Scorpions, 1988, Newbery Honor) chooses to write the story of his people? In this case, the result is engrossing history with a strong unifying theme, the narrative enriched with accounts of outstanding lives. With well-chosen specifics and lucid generalizations, Myers recounts the history of African-Americans, skillfully providing a context for longer treatment of events with far-reaching significance (e.g., the involvement of black soldiers in the Civil War or landmark cases like Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education). Most compelling are the interwoven stories of representative African-Americans, bringing the history vividly to life: Ibrahima, unconquerable African prince; James Forten, entrepreneur; George Latimer, a fugitive who won his freedom but ended his life "a deeply troubled man"; Ida B. Wells, journalist; Meta Vaux Warrick, sculptor; and many more. The complex emotions generated by the more recent Civil Rights movement make it difficult to summarize, but even here Myers's entire presentation is dignified, well balanced, and without rancor, reflecting--like many of the lives he depicts--the movement's generous spirit. Speaking as an African-American, Myers concludes with an eloquent homily recalling the noble qualities of the people he has described and reminding readers that we should "be no less than we can be" and that "before you can go forward, you must know where you have been." For Americans of any color, he makes a notably persuasive case for doing both. (Nonfiction. 11+)