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The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Since the earliest days of slavery, African Americans have called on their religious faith in the struggle against oppression. 

In this book the Beatitudes -- from Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount -- form the backdrop for Carole Boston Weatherford's powerful free-verse poem that traces the African American journey from slavery to civil rights.

Tim Ladwig's stirring illustra
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published November 13th 2009 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  190 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, religion
Well, this was definitely NOT a good choice for an atheist like me. The book is narrated by God.

I am the Lord your God.
I was with the Africans who were torn
from the Motherland and cramped in the holds of ships
on the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas.

Well, thanks for standing idly by while that happened, God.

And, yet . . . He's more than willing to take credit for the good things that occurred. He rang the bells at African American churches, He was the star that guided Harriet Tubman, an
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written with amazing illustrations. I love how she wove God into this wonderful share. ENJOY!
Margo Tanenbaum
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This inspiring picture book for all ages uses the Beatitudes--the famous lines that begin Jesus' Sermon on the Mount--as the background for a trip through African-American history, particularly as faith has influenced the quest for freedom and equal rights through different eras. Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford uses free verse text to describe God's omnipresent role throughout the long struggle, beginning with the voyage on slave ships to America and ending with Barack Obama takin ...more
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
Weatherford has taken Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and created a poem that follows African-American history from slavery through to the election of Barack Obama. The poem affirms that God has been with people even in slavery, during the Civil War, during the civil rights movement, and continues to be with them now. Readers will discover historical figures from various times in the book, including Rosa Parks, Emmett Till, Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King, Jr. There are a wealth of heroes here, a ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Touching and comforting picture book in which god says he was with African Americans throughout their experiences in America and will be in the future. Very solemn because of the African American experience.
Weatherford's message: From the earliest days of slavery and the fight for civil rights, God was with His people. He was with the slaves on the ships leaving Africa, He was with Mary McLeod Bethune as she worked to educate young people, and He will be with our children, "standing on the side of justice". The words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount provide an undercurrent of meaning, leading the readers thoughts from the beginning, reminding them of the spiritual nature of the battle for ...more
Gorgeous book. I love Tim Ladwig's Psalm 23. Here again he combines spiritual truth with stunning artwork that affirms African-American culture. This book is a summary of significant points of history from slavery to President Obama with the theme of God's presence in the midst of it all. Jesus' words run across the bottom of the page, linking theological principles to concrete examples. "The poor in spirit" appears on the page of kidnapped Africans taken to America as slaves. "Persecuted for ri ...more
Staci Browning
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is not a book I would closely connect to religion either. It deals a lot with what those involved went through and what it took for them to be successful in their endeavors. I really appreciated this book, however, and the message it sends to its readers. I don't think you will find a religious book that does not send across a positive and powerful message. This is a great example of that. ...more
J. Robin Whitley
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This version of the Beatitudes is set in Social Justice. Gives a new edge to the Beatitudes that perhaps we've lost over the years. ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Published in 2010 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Illustrated by Tim Ladwig.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford is a prolific writer for children. Usually, she writes books featuring African Americans on a wide variety of themes, including jazz, African American fathers, the Tuskegee Airmen, baseball, NASCAR and a lot of religious themes.

In this book, Weatherford tells the story of the African American struggle for equal rights through the prism of the Beatitudes, a sermon given by Jesus that i
Laura Giessler
Hard to settle on a rating; some parts I loved, a few parts I couldn't connect. I liked how the author framed the introduction--acknowledging that Blacks "have brought biblical values to bear on the freedom struggle" through all times. The review of African Americans who have been significant in the struggle and the progress was excellent, and I was glad that some figures who generally get less attention in children's books were included, like Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Varick--who ...more
Katrina Tangen
Well . . . it doesn't live up to the premise. The art is strong. It's a good overview of African-American civil rights history and includes lesser known figures along with the big names. But it was advertised as connecting the beatitudes to these stories using poetry and it didn't really seem to do either of those things.

I thought each page would have its own poem which would connect the event or person with a specific beatitude. Instead, there is a sentence or two summarizing each one, which i
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From anonymous slaves chained in the hold of a slaver in the middle passage to the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, Weatherford poetically brings forth vignettes of African Americans who “brought biblical values to bear on the freedom struggle.” She uses the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) to show the steadfast love of the LORD even during times of painful oppression. Ladwig, as he did with his illustrations for Psalm Twenty-Three and The Lord's Prayer, illuminates Weatherford’s poetry wit ...more
Donnisha Walls
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be very informing on African American history. There where even people in the book that I didn't know which was great that I got to learn. For children, I found it to be a little too deep. Also, the religious parts that are on the book may be a little much for some. This is a great book for children to explore and read for Black History Month. ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
We really enjoyed this book as a read aloud. It is a well written picture book with beautiful illustrations, which provided a meaningful introduction into the complex history of slavery, segregation and racial injustices in the US. I found this book to be an excellent conversation starter with both my early and upper elementary students; a really great way to enter the conversation with them.
Kylie Hannant
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A more traditional picture book with increased text. Great introduction to the historic events of African American people, following slavery to Obama's inauguration. This may be considered a faith based text, but still worth a read ...more
Joan Marie
Beautifully written. Spiritual. Leads to meaningful discussions.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated, this book reminds us of the folk who walked the path out of slavery and towards civil rights.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good story and pictures
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, moving book.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Timeline of some events throughout history, with God holding people up.
Tim Hoiland
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short children’s book that brings the Beatitudes to life by reimagining these teachings of Jesus in the context of the Civil Rights movement and its leaders.
Whitney Archer
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This book is beautifully illustrated and written. Loved it.
Angie Riddick
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read book to grandkids. Good book on the journey with illustration to share
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reviewed first on Redeemed Reader

The idea of putting the familiar lines of the beatitudes to the African American struggle for civil rights is a worthy one. How many times have those verses described the brave men and women who suffered, stood for truth, died, and/or bravely led their people! This book features the entire text of the beatitudes inside the front cover; the words also run along the bottom of each page within the book. Beginning with slavery, the text and images not only chronicle
Becky Birtha
The Beatitudes is a remarkable picture book that pulls together the well-known biblical verses and pivotal events in African American history. Tim Ladwig's compelling illustrations and Carole Boston Weatherford's poetic and understated words carry equal weight in telling a story that begins with chained Africans in the bowels of a slave ship, and ends after Barack Obama takes the oath as president of the United States. Young readers or listeners will encounter over a dozen significant historical ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Carole Boston Weatherford
Tim Ladwig
32 pages
Multicultural/Picture Book

Before I write the opinion of this book, please let it be known that I am a Christian. I do work in a public school but find multiple ways to express and convey my Christianity.

This is the 3rd multi-cultural book I've read. Each has referenced some sort of religion or a religious act. Which, I have no problem with. This book begins with versus from the Bible. Again, I have no problem with th
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
A beautiful tribute to the history and struggle of African Americans. The book is about social justice rather than the biblical aspect of the Beatitudes. It's not a religious book, though of course there is that implicit message of deliverance and redemption.

Also, to reviewers objecting to the inclusion of Obama; it's not about him personally or his politics, it's about what his election means for African Americans. It's impossible to deny how powerful the image of his inauguration is when juxt
Paul  Hankins
A pretty, pretty book which juxtaposes the Beatitudes found in the Gospel According to Matthew with examples from thought leaders within the civil rights movement.

This may be more a gift book and lead learners will want to do reader-advisory with a title that juxtaposes the theological with the civil.

The book is not only a celebration of legacy, but a book that offers promise of hope. The individuals featured within the book include Ruby Bridges, Emmett Till, and Barack Obama.

This would make
Chloe Davis
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: eng-355
As I read the beginning of this book I found it very touching. Thinking about all these amazing people that worked so hard for their rights and went through so much. I know that the Lord was definitely with these people. However as I turned to the end of the book this book became my least favorite book of all. As the picture of Obama being but into office I became angry. Whether you are a fan of Obama or not he did not help accomplish anything with civil right and he shouldn't be getting credit ...more
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Carole Boston Weatherford is a children's book author and poet who "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." A number of Weatherford's books tell the stories of African-American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, and Billie Holiday. Other books recount historical events such as the Greensboro Sit-ins and the bombing of the Sixteenth Stree ...more

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