Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 23, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-027703-3
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre: Children’s – Nonfiction – Biographies – People of Color/Social Activists
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes: Reviewer, Kristin Johnson just released her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in October 2003. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., is now available from PublishAmerica.  

I’ve Seen the Promised Land
The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Walter Dean Myers (illustrated by Leonard Jenkins)

Does the world really need another book about Martin Luther King Jr.? As long as our gotta-have-it-now-angry-hip-hop world leads our young people to the streets, yes. Coretta Scott King award winner Walter Dean Myers opens I’VE SEEN THE PROMISED LAND with illustrator Leonard Jenkins’ soulful image of Vietnam War college protesters and this statement about Dr. King:

“Dr. King had been invited to Memphis, Tennessee, where sanitation workers were on strike. He was tired, but he felt he had to offer his support. Dr. King could not enjoy his own good fortune, even though he had worked hard for it, as long as there was poverty anywhere in the world.”

Nor, Myers articulates through Dr. King’s story and the saga of the civil rights movement, could the legendary “I Have a Dream”-er give up as long as his people still struggled against barriers of color, ignorance and poverty.

Another remarkable American, Bill Cosby, made a powerful statement of his own in May, during the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (also covered in Dean Myers’ book.) Education supporter Cosby, speaking at a Washington D.C. gala dinner, then at Stanford University, denounced the black dropout rate, blaming some black parents and teachers for not encouraging education. Dean Myers’ book states that Dr. King, the son of a respected Atlanta minister, “worked hard in school” despite a segregated society. While many parents admit that, fifty years later, Cosby’s words have truth, they also point out that their kids face racial barriers.

Tell that to Dr. King, who “could not enjoy his own good fortune” and refused to take advantage of urban kids buying gangsta rap. Cosby, at the D.C. gala, denounced today’s parents by saying, “These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for `Hooked on Phonics.' '' (San Jose Mercury News, April 24, 2004)

Meanwhile, in Dean Myers’ book, King went to jail, not for stealing sneakers, but for his principles. Yes, our kids need another book about Dr. King to help them see that Promised Land.