cover image Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History

Schele Williams, illus. by Tonya Engel. Abrams, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4875-2

In this heartfelt debut, Williams offers an impassioned account of the enslaved African people whose descendants became today’s African Americans. The narrative surveys the abundance of cultures, languages, and kingdoms that comprise Africa at the genesis of Black chattel slavery in the summer of 1619, as well as the Black social and civic leaders who have shaped African American history and culture. Engel’s nature-centered, effervescent mixed media illustrations, rendered in acrylics, oils, printmaking, and collage on paper and wood, depict enslaved African peoples in vivid detail, including varied skin tones; elaborate clothing designs; and intricately plaited hairstyles. Weaving a connection between young Black readers and the historic figures and events that preceded them, the author-illustrator team highlights traits that they posit allowed Black people to survive historic oppression, among them strength, love, ingenuity, and grace. Engel further includes numbered spreads depicting notable Black inventors, such as Madam CJ Walker and George Washington Carver. A strikingly worthy introduction of 400 years of Black history to young readers, including the roots of American slavery, effectively conveying that slavery is far from the extent of Black history and influence. Ages 4–8. Author’s agency: Creative Artists Agency. Illustrator’s agency: Morgan Gaynin. (Sept.)