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The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights

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Since the earliest days of slavery, African Americans have called on their religious faith in the struggle against oppression.

In this book the Beatitudes — from Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount — form the backdrop for Carole Boston Weatherford's powerful free-verse poem that traces the African American journey from slavery to civil rights.

Tim Ladwig's stirring illustrations showcase a panorama of heroes in this struggle, from the slaves shackled in the hold of a ship to the first African American president taking his oath of office on the steps of the United States Capitol.

Readers of all ages will find this a book to return to again and again for encouragement and inspiration.

ISBN-13: 9780802853523

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Eerdmans William B. Publishing Company

Publication Date: 11-13-2009

Pages: 36

Product Dimensions: 8.70(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of many books for children, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which was a Caldecott Honor book, and Becoming Billie Holiday, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, a When he was eight years old, Tim lost an eye in anaccident. During his recovery, his father gave him oilpaints, a couple of brushes, and a small canvas. He painteda clown with colors straight from the tube. Tim's firstwork was promptly framed, and his love of painting wasborn.

Read an Excerpt


From slavery to Civil Rights
By Carole Boston Weatherford

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Copyright © 2010 Carole Boston Weatherford
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5352-3

Chapter One

Since the first African American churches were founded in the 18th century, black religious organizations have brought biblical values to bear on the freedom struggle. Black ministers preached against the institution of slavery, and slaves sang spirituals promising deliverance from bondage. African Americans drew on that same faith during the segregation era. And when the masses rose up against racial oppression during the Civil Rights Movement, they were emboldened by a belief in a just and a compassionate God. They trusted that God was with them and that he would set them free.

I am the Lord your God. I was with the Africans who were torn from the Motherland and cramped in holds of ships on the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. I heard them chant: Kum ba ya, kum ba ya.

I was with Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Varick, who founded churches where African Americans could praise the Lord and shout "Hallelujah!" I rang the church bells.

I was with Harriet Tubman when she fled slavery. As she led others out of bondage, I was the star guiding them north.

I was with the U.S. Colored Troops who fought to end slavery during the Civil War. I beat the drum for freedom.

I was with Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune, who built colleges and lit the way for young minds. I was the lamp.

I was with Marian Anderson when she sang spirituals on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from performing in their concert hall. I was the microphone.

I was with Rosa Parks when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus. And I was with the citizens who walked rather than ride buses during the boycott. I was their shoes.

I was with the mother of fourteen-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till. As she stood at his casket, sobbing, I was the shoulder she leaned on.

I was on the Freedom Rides and at the lunch counter sit-ins. I sat alongside the protesters.

I was with Martin Luther King Jr. when he shared his dream of brotherhood at the March on Washington. And when peaceful protesters in the Selma to Montgomery march were beaten by police on an Alabama bridge, I nursed the wounded.

I was with six-year-old Ruby Bridges when angry whites heckled her as she entered an all-white elementary school to become its first black student. I held her hand.

I was with Mississippi political organizer Fannie Lou Hamer when she got sick and tired of being sick and tired and demanded the right to vote. When she breathed song into the struggle, I shook the tambourine.


Excerpted from THE BEATITUDES by Carole Boston Weatherford Copyright © 2010 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Excerpted by permission of William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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