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On Andrea Davis Pinkney’s 2013 Coretta Scott King Author Award Acceptance Speech

From left: Dobbin Pinkney, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Phil Davis Jr.

From left: Dobbin Pinkney, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Phil Davis Jr.

“I felt an overwhelming urgency to create a testament to the positivity of African American manhood, as told through the biographies of men who shaped racial progress in the United States.”

Andrea Davis Pinkney won the 2013 Coretta Scott King Author Award for Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America (Disney-Jump at the Sun). The book was a family affair, and not only because it was illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney. In her acceptance speech, Andrea talks about how her brother and her teenage son both requested that she write something to counter the negative image of black men in the media: “my brother stuck it to me. ‘You’re a writer,’ he said. ‘Make a book that tells the real story.'”

And she did. Her speech about that book is as powerful and uplifting as the stories of the African American men she celebrates:

I believe our hands can lift even the heaviest weight of discouragement.

I believe our hands can clap out a celebration song whose mighty rhythms call us forward to serve the highest good.

As I said, I’m a creator of nonfiction. I like facts. So, in addition to believing, I know for a fact that when I put my hand in yours, together we can do what we could never do alone.

Whether those hands are the hands of ten black men.

Or the hands of my very own father holding up a ribbon of hope for his newborn daughter.

Or the hands of this black mother embracing her son by writing a book that is a mirror of his emergence into manhood.

I believe that when joined together, the hands of each and every one of us in this room have the power to change not only America but our entire world.

To commemorate Black History Month, we are highlighting a series of articles, speeches, and reviews from The Horn Book archive that are by and/or about African American authors, illustrators, and luminaries in the field — one a day through the month of February, with a roundup on Fridays. Click the tag HBBlackHistoryMonth17 and look for #HBBlackHistoryMonth17 on Facebook.com/TheHornBook and @HornBook. You can find more resources about social justice and activism at our Talking About Race and Making a Difference resource pages.

The Horn Book celebrates Black History Month

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About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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