A tender and powerful affirmation that Black lives have always mattered.
Black lives matter. That message would be self-evident in a just world, but in this world and this America, all children need to hear it again and again, and not just to hear it but to feel and know it.
This book affirms the message repeatedly, tenderly, with cumulative power and shared pride. Celebrating Black accomplishments in music, art, literature, journalism, politics, law, science, medicine, entertainment, and sports, Shani King summons a magnificent historical and contemporary context for honoring the fortitude of Black role models, women and men, who have achieved greatness despite the grinding political and social constraints on Black life. Frederick Douglass, Toni Morrison, Sojourner Truth, John Lewis, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, and many more pass through these pages. An America without their struggles, aspirations, and contributions would be a shadow of the country we know. A hundred life sketches augment the narrative, opening a hundred doors to lives and thinking that aren’t included in many history books. James Baldwin’s challenge is here: “We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.” Actress Viola Davis’s words are here, too: “When I was younger, I did not exert my voice because I did not feel worthy of having a voice. I was taught so many things that didn’t include me. Where was I? What were people like me doing?”
This book tells children what people like Viola were and are doing, and it assures Black children that they are, indisputably, worthy of having a voice.
Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter? is a book for this time and always. It is time for all children to live and breathe the certainty that Black lives matter.
About the Author
Shani Mahiri King (Miami, FL) is a law professor at the University of Florida, where he is director of the Center on Children and Families and an Associate Director of the Center on Race and Race Relations. Shani is the father of a nine-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, for whom he wrote the picture books Have I Ever Told You? and Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter?
Bobby C. Martin Jr (Brooklyn, NY) is co-founder of Champions Design, a branding and design agency headquartered in New York City, where he has worked with a wide range of clients including Dartmouth College, For Freedoms, the Girl Scouts, MTV, the NBA, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2019, Champions Design was named one of the 30 Most Important Companies in Design by Fast Company. Bobby has won numerous international awards from the AIGA, Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, D&AD, and the TDC, among others. He is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, where he earned an MFA. Bobby’s design credits include the June 24,2020 New York Times Sunday magazine cover “What Is Owed” and the February 2020 cover of The Atlantic magazine honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Black history and culture come alive in this celebratory biography, whose fresh, pop art-style bursts with color and creatively sized and set sanserif font, which is as much a part of the illustrations as the many portraits and sleek silhouettes. Taking cues from the street art created during recent Black Lives Matter protests and say-their-name campaigns born of racism and such tragedies as the murder of Breonna Taylor, this book powerfully reflects current events and attitudes, while raising up Black Americans past and present. Over 116 figures are name dropped within an inspiring array of fields, literally filling the space with a host of groundbreaking individuals: dancers, journalists, writers, community activists, lawyers, politicians, judges, artists,and illustrators. As readers turn each page, they will notice enlarged text, typically a famous quote or affirming rallying cry, accompanied by a list of names connected to that spread's topic.Teachers will find this an excellent book to use with students, both as a springboard for Black history lessons and cross-curricular studies as well as inspiration for research projects and creative activities for students, like creating their own #BLM word clouds or Black history collages of famous leaders. A brief biographical listing for each person featured in the text rounds out this empowering, fiery speech of a book.
— Tiffany Flowers - Booklist (Starred Review)
This book is alive. Reading it - and it must be read out loud - gives your voice meaning and poetry. King's powerful words, combined with Martin's vibrant graphics, feel like a parade, a celebration, an inspiration and an affirmation - Black lives matter.
...The book’s narrative rhythms portray time as a river of swirling currents as opposed to points on a straight line. King’s long view of history connects the past strongly to the present, and vice versa. A mention of Colin Kaepernick expands to include Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Black athletes who bravely protested at the 1968 Olympics. A mention of Ida B. Wells sends us cascading through generations of journalists who have followed in her stead, including Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Yamiche Alcindor. In the world King has created, Jean Toomer occupies the same space as Jacqueline Woodson, and it’s but a small leap from Josephine Baker to Gregory Hines. At strategic intervals the narrator wisely reasserts — plainly — that Black lives matter...
— Jabari Asim - New York Times Book Review
According to the preface, the goal here is to help kids, specifically Black kids, learn to believe in themselves. Mission accomplished. In this bold homage to the Black experience, they can access a birthright of struggle, excellence and resilience. On poster-like pages, words dominate in wildly varied font sizes. They march and scramble across bright pages, filled with quotations, commentary and a few abstract portraits. From Crispus Attucks to Simone Biles, Black achievers are enumerated — writers, musicians, journalists, athletes, academics, artists, scientists, moviemakers, politicians and public servants, 116 in all. (Check out their useful thumbnail bios.) The big takeaway: “You are valued. We are valued. Your life matters.”
— Susan Faust - San Francisco Chronicle
Black lives matter. That message would be self-evident in a just world, but in this world and in this America, all children need to hear it again and again, and not just to hear it but to feel and know it...
Critique: Effectively and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Contemporary Social Issues collections.
— Midwest Book Review
This gorgeous new release is a testament to how beautiful typography can influence a book’s design. A combination of bright colors, silhouettes, and names decorate the pages inviting the reader to take it all in. The text is magnificent, and I love the design choice of having a wide variety of colors throughout the book. The text meanders around the page, taking the reader on a physical journey on the page and throughout history while speaking directly to them.
This book is bold and celebratory. In the back is extensive information about those quoted in the beginning pages. Each name mentioned in the back (after a note from Shani) has a quote from the individual before the biographical information. In short, there is a plethora of historical knowledge in between these bright purple covers. It could be used and studied all year long, and it absolutely should be! Absolutely required reading in middle school classrooms, I can’t wait to return to it again and again.
— Corrie Locke-Hardy - The Tiny Activist
A children's tome filled with Black excellence, celebrating — and
providing the historical context for — accomplishments of Black
musicians, artists, journalists, politicians, scientists, and more. It
goes without saying that this book offers something to adults as well as
— Seija Rankin - Entertainment Weekly
A highly informative biographical text celebrating a variety of Black trailblazers in fields ranging from sports to music to politics. This showcase of historical and contemporary role models is beautifully designed and accessibly written.
— Boston Public Library BLACK IS List