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Stories of lesser-known people with impact on black history

February 17, 2011|Lesley Mason | Kids Ink

February is Black History Month. Take this time to read books about lesser-known individuals that made an impact on our history.



"Bad Boy: A Memoir," by Walter Dean Myers (Ages 12 and older)


Although born in Martinsburg, W.Va., Myers acturally grew up in Harlem in the 1940s. The title follows his life as he drops out of high school and joins the Army. Though never a great student, Myers never gives up on his writing and goes on to win the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times and was the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award.

"Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson," by Charles R. Smith (ages 4 to 8)

 Art and poetry combine to tell the story of boxer Jack Johnson, who became the first black world heavyweight boxing champion in the early part of the 20th century.


"Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave," by Laban Carrick Hill (ages 4 to 8)

The life of an astonishingly prolific and skilled potter who lived and died a slave in 19th-century South Carolina.


"Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing's African-American Champion," by Carole Boston Weatherford (ages 4 to 8)

Wendell Scott made history as the only black driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division.


"Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice," by Phillip Hoose (ages 9 to 12)


Nine months before Rosa Parks' history-making protest on a city bus, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old Montgomery, Ala., high-school student, was arrested and jailed for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger.

"Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color," by Elizabeth Alexander (ages 9 to 12)

Poems tell the story a 19th-century teacher and the students of color she taught in Connecticut, before persecution forced her to close.


"A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson," by Michelle Y. Green (ages 9 to 12)

Johnson was a pitcher with the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns from 1953 to 1955. Making her one of only three women to play professional baseball.

"Black Cat Bone: the Life of Blues Legend Robert Johnson," by J. Patrick Lewis (ages 12 and older)

Poem by Lewis and lyrics by Robert Johnson weave the tragic story of jazz musician Robert Johnson.





  "A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie ‘Peanut' Johnson," by Michelle Y. Green (ages 9 to 12)

Johnson was a pitcher with the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns from 1953 to 1955. Making her one of only three women to play professional baseball.

"Black Cat Bone: the Life of Blues Legend Robert Johnson," by J. Patrick Lewis (ages 12 and older)

Poem by Lewis and lyrics by Robert Johnson weave the tragic story of jazz musician Robert Johnson.





"Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave," by Laban Carrick Hill tells the story of a potter who lived and died as a slave in South Carolina.

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