To open a book illustrated by Floyd Cooper is to be drawn into a world of warmth, bravery, and joy. His drawings are as essential as the text itself in illuminating the world of childhood, often of the Black experience.
He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1956. Early on, his family lived in the projects and had little money, but his mother was able to give him a sense of self-worth that he has carried with him always. She also shared stories with him, helping to build his imagination.
What was it like to live long ago when Virginia belonged to England? When there were no cars, no computers, few hospitals and no free public schools?
Without cars, trains or airplanes, people traveled by boat, horseback or on foot by "shank's mare". The reason so many colonial towns were located next to rivers is that often the roads were terrible seas of mud. It was so much easier to travel on the rivers!
When the Beat Was Born, by Laban Carrick Hill, is a stunning example of just how wonderfully diverse the world of children's biographies is getting. This picture book offers a look into the life of DJ Kool Herc, one of the founders and innovators of hip-hop music.
Hill's words, when combined with Theodore Taylor III's crisp, colorful illustrations, depict how a boy named Clive left Kingston, Jamaica, for the Bronx. Clive wanted to be a DJ, slinging an arsenal of records and getting crowds amped up at parties.
The Generation Dream 2014 Concert has been a much-anticipated annual event for the last eight years in Richmond, and now CRRL is pleased to bring this concert to Fredericksburg for the first time ever! The Generation Dream concerts honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They include live performances that range from a rock band to a classical trio, rap musicians, modern dance, traditional African dance and even to spoken word artists. You can learn more by visiting them on Facebook.
The Fredericksburg concert will be held on Sunday, February 16, from 3:00-4:30 at the Headquarters Library Theater on 1201 Caroline Street. It is sponsored by the Richmond Youth Peace Project, a program of the Richmond Peace Education Center. To sign up, please call 540-372-1144.
Faith Ringgold is an artist who uses different materials to tell the stories that are important to her family and her people. Whether working with quilting squares, African masks, paint and brush, or her own words, Faith gives the rich colors and textures a life of their own. There's motion in her work, a striving upward and pushing at the edges of her world.
This interview airs beginning July 18.
Eugene Williams, Jr., is a writer, poet, singer, professional actor, and teacher with a strong message for black youth. His energy and enthusiasm are unbounded. He joins Debby Klein on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
This interview airs beginning July 11.
Educator, musician, and former member of the award-winning blues group “Saffire—the Uppity Blues Women,” Gaye Adegbalola shares her past as a civil rights activist and a deep lover of music with Debby Klein on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
This interview airs beginning July 4.
Dylan Pritchett’s African and African-American folktales and music bring history to life for audiences, young and old. His stories are lasting and universal and relate to the experiences of everyday life. Dylan chats with Debby Klein and shows us how he brings the story to life on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library Production.
The Seventeenth Child, by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne, sets down the memories of a childhood lived in the countryside of 1930s Virginia by a black woman who grew up before the Civil Rights Movement made so many gains. These remembrances are plain, soft-spoken and ring true to an age that was certainly different from the one we know. In some ways, it was a harder time as in her earliest years even basic food was very hard to come by and the sharecropping system made it difficult for all farmers, black and white, to get ahead or even stay afloat during the bad harvest years.
But it was the warmth of family, faith, shared hardship and simple joys that made those days good as well as difficult. The children worked, not only because their help was needed but because it was understood that working was a good thing in and of itself. They helped pull and tend tobacco, can vegetables, sew quilts, raise chickens, and shell corn. Lucille Payne tells of how hard it was to earn money. How sometimes her mother might not be paid much more than fifty cents for a hard day’s washing of filthy clothes in a dark and cold shed. Well, fifty cents and a hambone that might not be fit to eat without it being scrubbed, too, and sometimes not even then. But her mother said, “Well, you accept what they give you; next time it might be better.”
It wasn’t all about acceptance. Sometimes Lucille would see her mother spit in the water while she washed and she would ask her why she did that. “That helps to get them clean.” But I know she was just so angry because she had to survive. When you have so many children you have to survive the best way you can. Likewise, when white children rode the bus to their segregated school, leaving the black children to walk and even calling them names, the black children got a bit of revenge…and a chance to be better than their so-called betters with an act of charity.