Choosing Brave: Angela Joy's 2023 BGHB Nonfiction Honor Speech

I am thrilled today to accept a 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Award for Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement. I am truly appreciative of this lovely award.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to record a simple anecdote of hope for a virtual fundraising event. For days, I struggled with what to say. Violence against women, gross indifference to the suffering of others, the political stage, and the ridiculous flag in my neighbor’s yard all left me feeling utterly hope-less.

But now, while preparing for this moment, I am reminded of Mamie Till-Mobley and her tremendous story of hope, resilience, and determination. I’m reminded of all that she taught me: to stand up and speak out; to persevere; and, in all things, to choose brave because we never know which of our actions will change the world.

Because of Mamie, thousands were galvanized to fight for civil rights. Because of Mamie, we now have the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Because of Mamie, monuments and movies are being created to remind us that our inheritance as a nation is not ignorance and hatred, but the strength to challenge and overcome these evils. These are the themes that bring me hope. These are the themes that I strive to communicate in Choosing­ Brave. I am so thankful to the Boston­ Globe and the Horn Book for shining a light on this effort — for giving Choosing Brave one more opportunity to find its way into the hands and hearts of those who need it most.

[Read Horn Book reviews of the 2023 BGHB Nonfiction winners.]

I send specific and sincere gratitude to the judging panel: Erica Marks, Martha V. ­Parravano, and Roger Sutton; as well as the team at Roaring Brook Press and our editor, Connie Hsu; my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton; and the incredible paper-cut artist Janelle Washington.

I also send congratulations and appreciation to all of the authors and illustrators on this list and beyond who continue to bravely and brilliantly create art. May we all continue to find hope in the words, on a page, in a book. Thank you.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB23. Read more from The Horn Book by and about Angela Joy.

Angela Joy

Angela Joy is the author of Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement (Roaring Brook) illustrated by Janelle Washington, which won the 2023 Walter Award in the younger readers category and received a 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Award for Nonfiction.

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