Black History Month is here, and I want to encourage us all to learn more about the influence of Black Leaders in our faith communities. Whether looking for resources for your littles, or your simply in a season where a picture book biography is more attainable, I hope this list can help and bless you. May the stories of these men and women of faith encourage and challenge us to continue pushing towards Christ.
This book shares the life of Charles Albert Tindley. He taught himself to read, and eventually entered the ministry, becoming the pastor of a church he once was the janitor. Not only did he pastor, and open up ministries to care for his congregation, but he also wrote hymns. One of his most famous melodies inspired: ‘We Shall Overcome,’ the civil rights anthem.
Betsey Stockton was the first Black missionary to Hawaii, as well as the first single woman to serve as a missionary to Hawaii. During her time in Hawaii she opened the first public school.
Bishop Richard Allen was the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. After witnessing and experiencing racism as a pastor, he founded his own denomination to create space where Black people could worship God freely. This book shares Bishop Richard Allen’s life, quotes from the bishop, and a heart-felt message of what his leadership has meant to the author.
This is the story of Harriet Tubman, who bravely set out in search of freedom. With only her faith, she travelled to the North where she found freedom. But she didn’t stay there. She returned to help others find freedom.
Based on the childhood of Desmond Tutu, this story shows the power of words, but also the power of forgiveness.
Spanish Edition: Las Ponderosa Palabras de Martin
Most of us are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. This book takes the words from this speech as well as other quotes from Dr. King and pairs them with illustrations to share his live and message with children.
Coretta Scott was Dr. King’s wife. And though she did continue to share his legacy, she is a legacy in her own right. This book shares her life and influence in creating change in our society.
Mahalia Jackson: Walking With Kings and Queens
Mahalia Jackson was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. She is quoted as saying: ‘When you sing gospel, you have a feeling there is a cure for what’s wrong.’
Martin de Porres: A Rose in the Desert
Martin de Porres was a Peruvian brother of the Dominican order. He was mixed-race and faced discrimination throughout his life, both in and out of the church. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people and racial justice.
Sojourner Truth was passionate about justice. Born into slavery, once she was free, she travelled around using her voice to advocate freedom for others.
Spanish Edition: El Viaje de Frederick
Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery. However, he secretly taught himself to read and write. He believed words would help set him free. And he was right! At the age of 20 he escaped to freedom and used his words to advocate for equality for all.
I admire Georgia Gilmore so much. She was an excellent cook, and used what she had to fund the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She organized church ladies, and rallied congregations to participate in the efforts. Because of her the Montgomery Bus Boycott was successful. In an interview she referenced her Catholic faith as a reason she was able to maintain hope through it all. She believed God would answer her prayers, and he did.
George Washington Carver is known for his genius in the agriculture field. However, did you know he also loved the Lord and was an avid Bible teacher? He became a Christian when he was just a young boy. While on staff at the Tuskegee, he lead a Bible study class for students on Sundays. He was known for putting on theatrics and acting out the stories. When criticized for this, he said ‘When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”
Phillis Wheatley was one of the most profiling poets if the American Revolution. Born in Gambia, she was kidnapped, enslaved, and sold to the Wheatley family when she was just a child. Her intelligence was so apparent, the Wheatleys were compelled to teach her how to read and write. She soon started writing poetry, which her enslavers sought to have published. After it’s publication they freed her. After gaining freedom, she began to write, commending fellow abolishionists. She also wrote a poem of encouragement to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, which gained her an invitation to his headquarters.
I cannot even begin to tell you how big a fan I am of this board book. This board book series is intentional about teaching littles about Saints of Color. There are many, though not always talked about. This book in particular shares about Black Saints throughout history.
Black History is just a month long. But let us continue to learn year-round. May we continue to learn from these leaders and their examples far after the month of February. What books would you add to this list? Let’s grow together.