#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Unbought and Unbossed African American Woman Who Persisted

"Make something of yourself."

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story Of The First Black Woman In Congress (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Alicia D. Williams Illustrated by April Harrison
Published by: Anne Schwartz Books (2021) ISBN: 9780593123683 (ISBN10: 0593123689) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a three year old Shirley St. Hill, inquisitive and energetic, such that her immigrant parents decided that she would be better off in Barbados with other family members where there is comparatively bigger space and land for her to run around.

I enjoyed reading about this precocious young girl who defied all expectations and demonstrated knowledge, persistence, and motivation beyond her years. It is no wonder that she was accelerated both in Barbados and in Brooklyn when she moved back home with her parents in New York. As an educator who specializes in gifted and talented individuals, I was fascinated by Shirley’s refusal to let her light be dimmed – even by school leaders who initially did not believe in her.

It is also evident in the narrative how strongly Shirley was influenced by her father who discussed politics at the dinner table and who constantly reminded her to: “Study and make something of yourself.” Shirley did all that and more by asking tough questions even when people did not want to hear them and speaking truth to power.

The image above spoke to me because it showed that Shirley did not just have to contend with most White people who thought little of her and her people, but she also had to navigate cultural expectations and issues from within her own community. There is a strength in her that goes beyond courage, but a matter-of-fact resolve to be the change that she felt was needed to make things happen. Truly a remarkable woman who young people need to know more about.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 99 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

0 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Unbought and Unbossed African American Woman Who Persisted

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