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Book Review: The 1619 Project - Born on the Water

Updated: Jan 6, 2022


I purchased this book just under a month ago and I finally got around to reading it. Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson have written a phenomenal piece of work. FULL DISCLOSURE: I read it out loud and was sobbing most of the way through. The book holds the reminder current American History often leaves out, African American history doesn't begin with slavery. AND Our history is American history.

The book walks through the journey of a class project of a young girl, who has been asked by her teacher to share her ancestry. The girl is only able to discuss three generations back where other students are able to share their family's history for many generations. While the little girl returns home from school discouraged, her grandmother sits the family down to share their family's story - from the beginning.

Grandma shares a rich visual journey back centuries to the Kingdom of Ndongo in West Central Africa, the birthplace of their Ancestors. The two authors lyrically narrate our rich beginnings in Africa reminding readers that, "They had a home, a place, a land, a beginning." The start of the story radiates Black joy, knowledge, and passion. The color palate then changes as the book continues describing the stealing of our people, of their pain and sorrow of being ripped from their homeland.

Ours is no immigration story” is stated many times throughout the text, having readers acknowledge that Black people did not choose to come to America. Grandma describes the challenges of slavery and the resilient spirit of our community. She gives examples of how our people kept hope and dreams alive.

The book concludes with how we as a people have united to resist unfair treatment and continue to build a legacy our Ancestors are proud of. The reader is reminded of the fact that America was built by African Americans and of how much we have created and contributed to this country.

Every home should have a copy of this gorgeous narrative reminding everyone of the pride African American's must carry in their walks and journey.

Publisher: Kokila - Penguin Books USA

Language: English

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 48

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 7 - 10 years

Grade level ‏ : ‎ 2 - 5


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