True vignettes and traditional verse, set against starkly powerful images, tell the story of enslaved Africans in America as it has never been told before.
A man who cannot swim leaps off a slave ship into the dark water. A girl defies the law by secretly learning to read and write. A future abolitionist regains his will to live by fighting off his captor with his bare hands: "I will not let you use me like a brute any longer," Frederick Douglass vows. Drawing from authentic accounts, here is a chronology of resistance in all its forms: comical trickster tales about outwitting "Old Marsa"; secret "hush harbors" where Africans instill Christian worship with their own rituals; and spirituals such as "Go Down Moses," whose coded lyrics signal not just hope for deliverance, but an active call to escape.
Boldly illustrated with extraordinary oil paintings by award-winning artist Shane W. Evans, and meticulously researched by Doreen Rappaport, this stunning collection — spanning the period from the early days of slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation — is an invaluable resource for teachers, parents, libraries, students, and people everywhere who care about what it means to be free, what it is to be human. Back matter includes important dates, a bibliography, resources for further information, and an index.
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Read an Excerpt
From the moment they were forcibly taken from their families, Africans resisted the enslavement of their bodies and their spirits. On slave ships some Africans refused to eat. Some jumped overboard, choosing death over slavery. Mutinies happened so often that slave traders bought insurance to cover their losses in case of a slave rebellion.
The Story of Peppel
Peppel breathes in the fresh air above the deck. How good it feels to stretch without heavy chains on his legs and hands. If only he could stay up here forever. But no. "Down you go again," a sailor barks. Peppel and the other seven captives don't understand the man's words, but they know what is expected. They climb back down the ladder to the hot, stinking hold. They hurry down the passageway, fearful of being whipped if they don't move fast enough. Peppel glances over his shoulder. The sailor has disappeared from view.
Peppel stops to rub his sore hands and raw wrists, and suddenly he feels like laughing. The sailor forgot to put back his chains and leg irons! He grabs the shoulder of the man in front of him and raises his hands triumphantly. The man looks down at his own bare hands in disbelief. And so the news is passed from man to man. Silently, instantly, a plan is made.
For hours they crouch in the dark passageway, waiting for night. When they think it is time, they retrace their steps to the ladder. Miraculously, the sailor has also forgotten to replace the iron grate that locks them in below.
They creep onto the deck. The only sound is the gentle slap of waves against the ship. A full moon casts a brilliant light on a lone sentry strutting back and forth. Peppel raises his hand in signal and two men pounce on the sentry's back. Peppel pulls at the sentry's cutlass, but it is fastened to his waist with a short piece of rope.
The sentry shouts,"Help, help!"
The rope holding the sword is so twisted that Peppel cannot pull it free.
"Help, help!" the sentry shouts again.
Now Peppel hears the clamor of running feet and the shouts of approaching crew members. He lets go of the cutlass and jumps overboard. His seven companions follow. Their arms flail as they bob up and down in the water. Between mouthfuls of salty water, Peppel cries out for someone to show him how to swim.
A rowboat is lowered from the ship. Hands stretch out to pull the drowning men into the boat. Peppel's only other choice is the bottom of the dark, cold ocean. He reaches out and puts his black hand into the white hands of his captors.
NO MORE! STORIES AND SONGS OF SLAVE RESISTANCE by Doreen Rappaport. Text copyright (c) 2002 by Doreen Rappaport. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book. It has colorful paintings, songs and stories to engage a reader of any age. It is organized in chronological order, starting from the capture of Africans through the end of the Civil War. The history of slave life and resistance are all told through the point of view of slaves or former slaves. There are several vignettes of famous leaders in slave resistance such as Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Suzie King Taylor. Each of these pages has a story about the person, with a short description of their importance underneath. The stories of these people help their story stick, and lead to greater understanding.