[Nonfiction Wednesday] Knowing Juneteenth’s Mother: Opal Lee

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Opal Lee And What It Means To Be Free (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Alice Faye Duncan Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Published by: Thomas Nelson (2022) ISBN: 1400231256 (ISBN13: 9781400231256) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I only came to learn about Juneteenth fairly recently – especially since it is an event that is being celebrated in my daughter’s university (Seattle University). This story is a primer on how the celebration came to be: that is, 19th of June 1865 when General Gordon Granger marched through Galveston, Texas with the Union army troops declaring and enforcing the proclamation that “All Slaves Are Free.”

What I especially find to be noteworthy as I read more about abolitionist stories is how freedom is a double-edged sword: that a law or a policy means nothing unless it is successfully implemented, with scaffoldings and adequate support – not to mention, reparation – in place to narrow the existing social divide.

My favourite image is the one of Opal Lee, as a young girl, reading poetry books on her grandfather’s porch – before the pivotal event that has turned her into a teacher, an activist, a “story keeper.” I feel grateful that picturebooks like this one now exist. Find it and share this inspiring story of how activism and storytelling are intertwined with your community.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 65 out of target 100

July 13, 2022 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal