I am fortunate to be part of today’s crew at
This week I completed THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
by Colson Whitehead, whose many honors for
bringing the main character, Cora, and her mother,
Mabel, to us, include
the 2016 National Book Award.
“The world may be mean, but people
don’t have to be, not if they refuse.”
– Mabel The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
I cried through much of it, especially at the end.
The author combines history and his own magical realism.
With those tools, he giftedly presents powerful suggestions
about the physical and emotional torture of the
enslavement business that are visceral and I flinched.
It is a swift thing to convict in our minds the U.S. businessmen and women who perpetuated imprisonment and brutality upon children, women and men.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD also delivers us to others
whose complicity must also be remembered and discussed.
The author’s ultimate gift is a fiercely independent young
woman whose spirit will not be squelched. At an imagined
museum in South Carolina, a temporarily-free Cora plays
parts in three different time-period dioramas of black history.
It gave me chills to see her assignment. I made an air-first
as Cora figures out how to get back at gawking white visitors.
Teachers should read this novel; it will be good to see how
it informs both history and literature classes,
for more mature students.
It may also be widely available on television.
. . .
Although any day of the year is an important time
to learn about more
titles on the black experience, here are some links,
in celebration of
February, Black History Month.
The Brown Bookshelf
I enjoyed meeting author Leah Henderson at a workshop
and think you will want to follow this talented
thinker as her writing career expands.
Poetry for Children
This site, above, created by children’s literature/poetry specialist Sylvia Vardell,
who I hope to meed some day as many of you have, features a link
to SoundCloud posts of poems on various aspects of the black experience. <