A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A section at the front of the book offers a brief look at the Harlem Renaissance and a substantial Resources section at the back of the book includes not only short biographies of the poets but also of the artists who contributed illustrations to the book.
Voices from the past can inspire and empower the voices of today. Feel pride for who you are. Don't let others define you. It's good to be bold and "sassy."
Positive Role Models
Biographies in the Resource section introduce readers to poets who shattered the boundaries of what was expected of Black women of their generation. Gwendolyn Bennet (1902-1981) attended Columbia University and the Sorbonne in Paris, Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935) published her first book of poetry at 20 and was an organizer for the women's suffrage movement, Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966) was one of the first Black writers included in White mainstream publications, and Ida Towland (1904-?) was one of the few Black women of her generation to earn a PH.D.
The Black women poets whose work is featured in Legacy were also scholars, teachers, editors and writers, musicians, suffragettes, and campaigners for anti-lynching laws. It's noted that the works of Angelina Weld Grimke were often ignored because of her "openly lesbian poetry."
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Violence & Scariness
In a poem by Esther Popel, a naked Black boy is dragged through the streets, hung, and his body burned as a crowd watches. The rope used to hang him is cut in pieces and handed out as souvenirs
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nikki Grimes' Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance celebrates the work of Black women poets who wrote during the 1920s and '30s when the arts (prose and poetry, jazz, painting, and dance) flourished in the community of Harlem in New York City. As she did in One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance, Grimes creates her poems using the "Golden Shovel" method -- taking an entire short poem or a line from a poem and then writing a new poem using words from the original. Poems from Grimes that feature empowered Black women contrast with poems that reflect the racism and closed doors faced by the women poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Each poem is accompanied by a vibrant and original color illustration from a Black woman artist. One poem graphically describes the lynching of a young Black man. Grimes is a winner of the American Library Association's Children's Literature Legacy Award.
Is It Any Good?
Poems written by an often overlooked and undervalued generation of Black women inspire new works by a modern day feminist poet with "sass." This is a legacy offered in words. Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance is not only a book for young readers with an interest in poetry or history. Young artists are certain to be captivated by the extraordinary illustrations and inspired by the biographies of the artists.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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