POWERFUL AND EMPOWERING.
Those two words describe the winner of the first-ever Minnesota Author Project: Communities Create Award announced Thursday during the Minnesota Library Association’s annual conference.
Justice Makes a Difference—The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire by Artika Tyner and Jacklyn M. Milton won the award. And it’s a well-deserved honor bestowed on the 16-page book themed on making a difference in this world. Illustrators Jeremy Norton and Janos Orban also deserve credit for exceptional art.
The book tells the story of Justice and her grandmother, who teaches her granddaughter about her value. “…don’t let someone tell you that you’re too young to make a difference.” And then she goes on to cite numerous individuals who have made a difference, like Ida B. Wells, a journalist who advanced racial equality through her writing.
“Words are powerful,” Grandma tells Justice. “They can be used in powerful ways to do good or to do harm.”
And so the storyline goes with the authors weaving historical figures into the heart of their message—that we each hold within us the power to effect change, to help others, to make a difference. Individuals like Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to run for U.S. President, or attorney Charles Hamilton Houston, who worked to end segregation in schools. Or Justice.
This book is as fitting today as 60-plus years ago, which says something. We still need to hear the message that what we say and do, or what we don’t say or don’t do, matters.
I’d encourage you to read this award-winning book penned by Tyner, an educator, civil rights attorney and founder of Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, and Milton, an educator and community advocate. Proceeds from the book will support educational programming at Planting People, an organization seeking to plant seeds of social change via education, training and community outreach.
By reading this book, I learned more about individuals who cared and led and worked hard for change. Brief bios on those six leaders who inspired Justice end this powerful and empowering book.
SIX BOOKS COMPETED for the Minnesota Author Projects: Communities Create Award, including one in which my poem, “Life at Forty Degrees,” published. Although our collection of poetry, Legacies: Poetic Living Wills, did not win, I am honored to have been in the group of six books selected as award finalists.
Congratulations to all five finalists and to the winner, Justice Makes a Difference. Because yes, it does. And, yes she can.
SPECIAL THANKS to Northfield Poet Laureate Rob Hardy for submitting the collection of poems by 16 Rice County poets to this competition. He is an enthusiastic and much-appreciated poet and ambassador for poets and our poetry. I appreciate you, Rob.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling