The notion of “Giving a Voice to the Voiceless” lends itself to a range of interpretations. At today’s stage event of the same name, a range of authors and illustrators will talk about how that guided them in their most recent books.

Panelist Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson and author most recently of Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963 (Scholastic Press, Sept.), shares her 13-year-old perspective on key events of that year, including her family’s participation in the March on Washington as guests of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The story behind Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered during that march, inspired Barry Wittenstein’s picture book A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and a Speech That Changed the World (Holiday House/Porter, Sept.), illus. by panelist Jerry Pinkney.

King indefatigably used his voice in the service of the voiceless, notes Pinkney, calling the activist “the voice of the civil rights movement in its early chapters, and his country’s trumpeter for social justice.” While working on A Place to Land, the illustrator adds, “I became aware of the many voices MLK had used to express his message. His tone could be angry, direct, hopeful, and positive, but he always spoke with a humbled elegance. Through the process of creating the images for this book, I sought to visually interpret Dr. King’s vulnerability and courage, his profound concern alongside his vision of unflappable hope. It changed my own lens in viewing this country’s repressive past and its moral compass for seeking equality and justice.”

Stephana I. Colbert, author of Ordinary Extraordinary African American Women: The Elders (Jewell Jordan Publishing, 2017), rounds out the panel, moderated by Miranda Spigener-Sapon, creator of the upcoming Amazon Prime series Marisa Romanov and author of Charles: A Marisa Romanov Story (Winterwolf Press, Nov.), the first of four prequels to that series.

“Giving a voice to the voiceless is so key,” Spigener-Sapon says, “because everyone deserves a chance to be heard, and I want to contribute in any way possible to ensure that we apply inclusivity to society.” Without the books the panelists have created, she continues, “We might never get to learn these stories—and there are so many more out there. I’m a strong supporter in utilizing the arts, entertainment, and literary worlds to give a voice to those who need to be heard the most.”

Today, 9:30–10:30 a.m. Barry Wittenstein and Jerry Pinkney will sign A Place to Land at Table 10.

Today, 2:15–3 p.m. The “Giving a Voice to the Voiceless” panel takes place on the Downtown Stage.