MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the arrival of "That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed The World," a collection of inspirational, biographical essays honoring the great legacies and accomplishments of prominent African Americans. As important, each essay begins in childhood because every important person was once a child. Paired with beautiful photographs of children as our heroes, the book is designed to teach our youth that they can be anything they want when they grow up.
“That They Lived is an instant classic. Words and Images, the past and the future, weave back and forth, in the stunningly original children's book, until we see and hear the American Dream becoming an American reality as the young people depicted-- and the young people reading-- come to know their history and their power. People of all ages will enjoy this brilliant, necessary, charming, and inspiring volume. Parents and teachers will find inspirations for endless activities inspired by these pages.” —ALICE RANDALL, professor of African-American Children's Literature at Vanderbilt University and author of The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess (Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Prize) and "Black Bottom Saints"
“There is no other book about African American lives like That They Lived. Riley and Smith-Jones have revisited twenty historic figures to demonstrate that whatever fame or greatness one achieves, everyone was a child once. How wonderful to learn of the childhoods of icons from Douglass to Obama, Wells to Hamer, and so many more. The book gleams with the sheer variety of black life and ambition. The photographs are magic. This is for young readers, but really for all of us since we all came from somewhere.” —DAVID W. BLIGHT, Yale University, author of Pulitzer-Prize- winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
“It is true that children can only become what they see. That They Lived provides that window on the world of African Americans who achieved greatness, often against the odds. Riley’s words combined with Smith-Jones’s beautiful and touching photography make these history-makers accessible for children and adults alike.” —TERRI LEE FREEMAN, president, National Civil Rights Museum
“That They Lived transforms Frederick Douglass from a historical figure into a courageous soul who helped turned the nation against slavery. Aretha Franklin is no longer just a voice, but a young woman who overcame tragedy and prejudice on her way to success. That They Lived makes the stories of these courageous African Americans come alive, making it possible for young people of all colors to see how they, too, can change the world."
— JERRY MITCHELL, author of Race Against Time
“The moment my son begins to read, I will give him this fascinating book. The chance to experience our Black heroes’ younger lives gives our children the confidence to pursue the greatness of their own. We know how the world sees us, so it's essential to ensure that our children see themselves as powerful before sending them out in it. Rochelle and Cristi’s book is an elegant and profound means to help them do just that.”
—QASIM BASIR, filmmaker
Wayne State University Press also just announced the arrival of the paperback edition of "The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery," the acclaimed collection of powerful essays about the many ways that enslavement still affects how African Americans live in America.
author, essayist, blogger and arts advocate Rochelle Riley. She spent nearly a quarter century as a columnist when she left the Detroit Free Press in 2019 to focus on arts and culture. She is now the Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit. She left journalism with a bang, getting inducted into the North Carolina Media and Journalism Hall of Fame and receiving the National Headliner Award for best local columns, both in 2019. (You can watch her Hall of Fame induction speech HERE). She also is a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Rochelle is a co-founder of Letters to Black Girls, an initiative to give letters of advice and encouragement from women across the country to girls across the country. She is the author of 2018's "The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery," (Wayne State University Press) and co-author of "That They Lived," a collection of essays and photographs about famous African Americans that all children should know (Wayne State University Press, 2021).
The Burden is available on audible!