Black Poetry Day: October 17th

October 17th is Black Poetry Day. In honor of this day, this month’s blog post focuses on materials by and about black poets in the S-Collection. In 1760 Jupiter Hammon became the first published African-American poet. Black Poetry Day is celebrated on October 17th in honor of the anniversary of Hammon’s birth in 1711. Lessons on Black Poetry Day can include historical events such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. A few of the books listed below also combine poetry with examination of artwork, such as Nikki Giovanni’s Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy… , Belinda Rochelle’sWords With Wings… and Ntozake Shange’s We Troubled the Waters: Poems.

To find more poems by black authors, do an advanced search in the online catalog using the subject “juvenile” as one of your search terms, combined with any of the following phrases as subjects:
African Americans — Poetry.
American poetry — African-American authors.
American poetry — African American authors — Collections.
African Americans — Juvenile poetry.

For biographies about black poets do a search in the online catalog using the following phrase as a subject:
African American poets — Biography — Juvenile literature.

You can also search for books by the following black poets: Maya Angelou, Jeffrey Barton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling A. Brown, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Grimes, Angelina W. Grimke, Jupiter Hammon, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Ntozake Shange, Anne Spencer, Joyce Carol Thomas, Flora Todd, Natasha Trethewey, Margaret Walker, Chad Wendell, Phillis Wheatley, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Poetry by and about Black Poets

Adedjouma, Davida.
The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children. 1996.
A collection of poems written by African American children celebrating what it means to be Black.
[Education Storage S.811.08 P18]

Altman, Susan and Susan Lechner.
Followers of the North Star: Rhymes about African American Heroes, Heroines, and Historical Times. 1993.
A collection of poems about some of the historical experiences of African Americans and about such prominent people as Benjamin Banneker, Matthew Henson, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Leontyne Price.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 AL79F]

Brooks, Gwendolyn.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. 2007.
This newly illustrated edition collects poems that celebrate the joy, beauty, imagination, and freedom of childhood.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 B791b]

Bryan, Ashley.
Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African-American Poetry. 1997.
Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a line from a poem by different African American poets, describing an aspect of the black experience.
[Education S Collection Q. SE. B382a]

Dawes, Kwame.
I Saw Your Face. 2005.
A poem and portraits of children illustrate the shared beauty and heritage of people of African descent living throughout the world.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 D321i]

English, Karen.
Speak to Me: (and I Will Listen Between the Lines). 2004.
Describes events of one day at a San Francisco Bay Area school as perceived by different second-graders, from the observations of the first to arrive on the playground to the walk home.
[Education Storage SE. En365s]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: a Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. 2008.
More than 50 poems and an accompanying CD introduce poetry with a beat. Includes poems by Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jacqueline Woodson, Eloise Greenfield, Walter Dean Myers, Tupac Shakur, and many others.
[Education S Collection S.811 H611]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy like My Sister Kate: Looking at the Harlem Renaissance Through poems. 1996.
Includes poems by such authors as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Amiri Baraka, with commentary and a discussion of the development of African American arts known as the Harlem Renaissance.
[Uni High, Center for Children’s Books 811.08 SH62]

Giovanni, Nikki.
Spin a Soft Black Song: Poems for Children. 1985.
A poetry collection which recounts the feelings of Black children about their neighborhoods, American society, and themselves.
[Education Storage S.811 G439S1985]

Greenfield, Eloise.
Angels. 1998.
A collection of poems which show angels guiding, comforting, and protecting Afro-American children during milestones in their lives as well as in the course of everyday activities.
[Education Storage S.811 G837a]

Grimes, Nikki.
When Gorilla Goes Walking. 2007.
In this collection of rhyming poems, Gorilla the cat enjoys answering the telephone, eating soul food, and sharing mischievous adventures with her young owner.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 G882wh]

Hughes, Langston.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. 2007.
A collection of sixty-six poems, selected by the author for young readers, including lyrical poems, songs, and blues, many exploring the black experience.
[Education S Collection S.811 H874d2007]

Hughes, Langston.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers. 2009.
The famous poem, taken from the collected poems of Langston Hughes, illustrated with watercolors.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H8745n]

Lewis, J. Patrick.
Freedom like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans. 2000.
Presents poems and brief biographical notes about such well-known African Americans as: Arthur Ashe, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Louis Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Jr., “Satchel” Paige, Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, Marian Anderson, Malcolm X, Wilma Rudolph, and Billie Holiday.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 L587f]

Medina, Tony.
DeShawn Days. 2001.
The author draws from his own experiences growing up in the projects to create the story of DeShawn Williams, his grandmother who helps him with his homework, and his cousin Tiffany, who shares in his laughter and adventures.
[Education S Collection S.811 M468d]

Muse, Daphne (compiler).
The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance. 2006.
Includes an introduction to the Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935) and brief biographies of the poets.
[Education S Collection S.811 En85]

Myers, Walter Dean.
Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices. 2004.
Acclaimed writer Walter Dean Myers celebrates the people of Harlem with these powerful and soulful first-person poems in the voices of the residents who make up the legendary neighborhood: basketball players, teachers, mail carriers, jazz artists, maids, veterans, nannies, students, and more. Exhilarating and electric, these poems capture the energy and resilience of a neighborhood and a people.
[Education S Collection S.811 M992h]

Newton, Vanessa.
Let Freedom Sing. 2009.
Simple poetry pays tribute to African Americans who struggled for civil rights.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 N488l]

Okutoro, Lydia Omolala.
Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets. 2002.
This stunning poetry collection encourages readers from all cultures to explore the many threads of their own ancestral roots. Marker poems by well-known poets, such as Langston Hughes, introduce each themed section of the book.
[Education Storage S.811.08 Q4]

Rochelle, Belinda (compiler).
Words with Wings: a Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art. 2001.
Pairs twenty works of art by African-American artists with twenty poems by twenty African-American poets.
[Education Storage Q. S.811.08 W891]

Shange, Ntozake.
We Troubled the Waters: Poems. 2009.
Poetry and paintings in tribute to the many individuals who acted with courage for justice and change during the civil rights movement.
[Education S Collection S.811 Sh182w]

Thomas, Joyce Carol.
Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea: Poems. 1993
This book includes a dozen lyrical poems exploring issues of African-American identity through delicately interwoven images.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 T364br]

From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas

Black History Month 2007

Beginning as Negro History Week in 1926, and expanding to Black History Month in 1976, February for decades has been a time to recognize the active role and valuable contributions of African Americans in the shaping of the United States. This effort is spearheaded by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH), which sets an annual theme emphasizing various elements of African American history, culture, and experiences. The National Black History Theme for 2007 is “From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas.”*

The following is a list of titles found in the Education S-Collection which relate directly to this year’s National Black History Theme, as well as several relevant web sites. Additional information on locating other titles relevant to African American history can be found at the end of this entry.

*Source: The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History
Fiction Titles

Lester, Julius.
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue. 2005.
Emma has taken care of the Butler children since Sarah and Frances’s mother, Fanny, left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave “assets,” possibly including Emma.
[Education S-Collection: S. L567d]

Mosley, Walter.
47. 2005.
Number 47, a fourteen-year-old slave boy growing up under the watchful eye of a brutal master in 1832, meets the mysterious Tall John, who introduces him to a magical science and also teaches him the meaning of freedom.
[Education S-Collection: S.M853f]

Woodson, Jacqueline
Show Way. 2005.
The making of “Show ways,” or quilts which once served as secret maps for freedom-seeking slaves, is a tradition passed from mother to daughter in the author’s family.
[Education S-Collection: S.W868s]

Walter, Mildred Pitts.
Alec’s Primer. 2004.
A young slave’s journey to freedom begins when a plantation owner’s granddaughter teaches him how to read. Based on the childhood of Alec Turner (1845-1923) who escaped from slavery by joining the Union Army during the Civil War and later became a landowner in Vermont.
[Education S-Collection: Q.SE. W171a]

Wait, Lea.
Seaward Born. 2003.
In 1805, a thirteen-year-old slave and his friend make a dangerous escape from Charleston, S.C. and stowaway to head north toward freedom.
[Education S-Collection: S.W134se]

Nolen, Jerdine.
Big Jabe. 2000.
Momma Mary tells stories about a special young man who does wondrous things, especially for the slaves on the Plenty Plantation.
[Education S-Collection: Q.SE.N717b]

Siegelson, Kim L.
In the Time of the Drums. 1999.
Mentu, an American-born slave boy, watches his beloved grandmother, Twi, lead the insurrection at Teakettle Creek of Ibo people arriving from Africa on a slave ship.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.Si154i]

Non-Fiction Titles

Kramer, Ann.
Blacks in America. 2005.
Explores the history of Black people in America, how they got here, their years of slavery, their right to freedom, and the constant battle for equality.
[Education S-Collection: S.973 K8601b]

Cloud Tapper, Suzanne
Voices from Slavery’s Past: Yearning to be Heard. 2004.
Contains compelling stories about slaves, slave owners, abolitionists, and the whole concept of how slavery affected America
[Education S-Collection: S.973 C624c]

Hatt, Christine.
The African-American Slave Trade. 2003.
Recounts the history of slavery and the slave trade in the United States discussing the causes, the slave experience, the Civil War, and Reconstruction and its aftermath.
[Education S-Collection: S.306.3 H287a]

Lilly, Melinda
From Slavery to Freedom. 2003.
Introduces the Underground Railroad, a group of people and places through which runaway slaves escaped to freedom before the Civil War.
[Education S-Collection: S.973.7115 L628f]

Rappaport, Doreen
No More!: Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance. 2002.
Songs, stories and poems about slavery and the struggle to maintain dignity and freedom.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.306.362 R182n]

Diouf, Sylviane A.
Growing Up in Slavery. 2001.
Examines what life was like for children who grew up as slaves in the United States, describing the conditions in which they lived, the work they did, how they were educated, and their efforts to obtain freedom.
[Main Stacks: 306.362083 D624g]

Rappaport, Doreen.
Freedom River. 2000.
Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.
[Education S-Collection: SB. P241r2000]

Materials on the Web
The following web sites contain materials that are particularly relevant to the 2007 National Black History Theme: “From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas.”

Africans in America
This PBS site provides narrative, images, and other resources about the African American experience from 1450-1865.

African American World
Another PBS website that explores the role of African Americans in History, the Arts and Culture, and Society. A children’s version of the site is available at

Kids’ Place: African American History
The Newark Public Library Kids’ Place offers a good list of links to sites related to African American history and culture.

Lest We Forget
A web presentation of the history of slavery and African American culture in the Americas created by the New York Public Library and the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The Underground Railroad
An interactive journey through the Underground Railroad, created by National Geographic.

Finding More Black History Month Materials in the Education S-Collection

Biographies of Important African Americans: Enter one of the following combinations into a subject search in the UIUC online catalog:
African Americans–biography–juvenile literature
African Americans–biography–juvenile fiction
African Americans–biography–juvenile poetry

African American History: Enter one of the following combinations into a subject search in the UIUC online catalog:
African Americans–history–juvenile fiction
African Americans–history–juvenile literature

African American Life, Heritage, and Culture: Enter one of the following combinations into a subject search in the UIUC online catalog:
African Americans–juvenile literature–bibliography
African Americans–juvenile poetry
African Americans–juvenile literature
African Americans–juvenile fiction

(Information compiled by graduate assistant Jennifer Erbach)