by Leah Henderson; illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Inspired by a photo of a large group of Black children gathered, as if in preparation for a parade, author Leah Henderson explores the roots of Memorial Day in this fictionalized account. Originally celebrated as Decoration Day, Henderson learned that several communities in America claim to have hosted the first memorial events following the Civil War. This story, presented through the perspective of the young protagonist, shows emancipated Black men creating respectful final resting places for soldiers who had died in Charleston, South Carolina's prisoner of war camp. While the young boy longs to help his father's work, his mother insists that he attend school instead, pointing out that "knowledge is its own freedom." Finally, he and other children in his community are invited to help with both the labor and the celebration of remembrance. These events are brought to life, as if through the hazy veil of memory and time, in Floyd Cooper's signature soft illustration style and muted color pallet. Thoughtful back matter encourages readers to learn more about the history of this American holiday.
See the Jones Library Antiracism Book List for recommended titles for all ages.