Wednesday, February 1, 2017

'Freedom in Congo Square' Celebrates the Dominance of Spirit Over Suffering

'Freedom in Congo Square' Celebrates the Dominance of Spirit Over Suffering:

‘Freedom in Congo Square’ Celebrates the Dominance of Spirit Over Suffering

freedom in congo square

Down in swampy, sultry Louisiana in the 19th century, slaves toiled in the fields from sunup to sundown every day of the week. The only exception was Sunday, when they had half a day in the afternoon to gather in New Orleans’ Congo Square – an open space that is now part of the city’s Louis Armstrong Park in the Treme neighborhood. There the slaves were free to set up an open air market and remember their African heritage through dance, song, and other cultural traditions.
Freedom in Congo Square a picture book written by Carole Boston Weatherford, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, is a poetic, nonfiction children’s book that celebrates the dominance of spirit over suffering.  Last week it was named a Caldecott Honor Book, just in time for Black History Month, and it is February’s featured book in the NEA Read Across America calendar as a poetic, vibrant reminder of how humans can come together to find joy, hope and dignity, even under the cruelest circumstances.
“The main challenge was to make slavery understandable for children,” says Weatherford. “I did so by framing the relentless labor and inhumanity with a day of the week [and a] countdown rhyme. The book underscores the persistence and preservation of African cultural traditions, and attests to the spirit and endurance of African descendants,” author Weatherford told E. Ce Miller of Bustle.com.
Mondays, there were hogs to slop,
mules to train, and logs to chop.
Slavery was no ways fair.Six more days to Congo Square.
Each day of the week is counted down with rhythm and lyricism and illustrations evocative African folk art, all while conveying the cruelty of the slave system.
Wednesdays, there were beds to make,Silver to shine, and bread to bake.The dreaded lash, too much to bear,Four more days to Congo Square.
In Freedom in Congo Square, the tyranny of slavery isn’t sugar coated for young readers. It’s presence helps them to understand how jubilant Sundays would be for slaves, when at 'Freedom in Congo Square' Celebrates the Dominance of Spirit Over Suffering:


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