A Long Time Coming: A Lyrical Biography of Race in America from Ona Judge to Barack Obama

Calkins Creek. Aug. 2023. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781662680663.
Gr 7 Up–A collective biography of six major Black resistance leaders, this title documents the history of Black racial strife, always underwritten with an unwavering belief in equality and freedom. Written in “story-poems” with quotes italicized, Shepard’s work presents the lives and racial justice work of Ona Judge, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama. Christie’s captivating, full-page art gives each section visual grounding so that readers can imagine the time that Shepard describes. Unique stories of childhood or life events before their fame will help teens understand these often-studied individuals as products of their time. These narratives will also give young people a new understanding of how the subjects became exceptional forces for racial freedom, such as Obama’s fifth grade lie about his “princely” African father. Meticulously researched and organized, each section’s poems are given places and years. Back matter includes extensive source notes, an index, a time line, and a concluding poem for readers to consider how racial equality has been “a long time coming.”
VERDICT Shepard creatively argues through captivating poetic history that racial justice is the long struggle in this country and that we are still working toward who “we” is in this more perfect union. A must purchase.

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