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Children's Book Review: Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Title: Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem
Author: Sojourner Kincaid Rolle and illustrated by Alex Bostic
Year published: 2022
Category: Children's fiction (ages 4-8)
Pages: 32 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (TX)

SummaryThis lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today.

After 300 years of forced bondage;
hands bound, descendants of Africa
picked up their souls—all that they owned—
leaving shackles where they fell on the ground,
headed for the nearest resting place to be found.

Deeply emotional, evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States. This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.

Review: I am the president of the University of Santa Barbara History Associates and we sponsor a speaker series each year in which faculty members talk about their research. The goal is to create bridges between the UCSB faculty and the Santa Barbara community and to give history lovers a chance to come together.

In October, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle will co-present with the Santa Barbara City architectural historian on a talk called "Prioritizing the Preservation of Black Legacies in Santa Barbara." Kincaid Rolle is active in our community and was the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate.

This children's book is beautiful. The poem is inspirational, historical, and important. The illustrations are fantastic. I also like that she includes an Afterword, explaining a bit of the history and her personal connection to it.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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