Friday, February 1, 2019
Fact Friday: Barbara Jordan: politician and Civil Rights leader by Duchess Harris, JD, PHD
Barbara Jordan: politician and Civil Rights leader by Duchess Harris, JD, PHD. Freedom's Promise series. 48 p. Abdo Publishing, December, 2018. 9781532117664. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)
Fact Friday features Barbara Jordan: politician and Civil Rights leader by Duchess Harris, JD, PHD. Barbara Jordan grew up poor in Houston during the Jim Crow era. Her parents valued education and Jordan was bright and excelled in school. She discovered debate in college and her team tied with Harvard in a competition. This inspired her to attend Boston University Law school. She was one of two black women in her class in 1959. Barbara Jordan's work ethic and her intellect earned her respect as a lawyer and she eventually moved into politics, where she was a pivotal figure in Richard Nixon's impeachment.
This short, succinct biography of Barbara Jordan packs a punch. It is filled with photos and text boxes that provide context and extra information. Harris also challenges the reader to think critically and practice paraphrasing. On page 15, Harris quotes from Jordan's speech to the 1976 Democratic National Convention, then invites readers to adapt the passage. Helpful backmatter contains more facts about Barbara Jordan, a glossary and links to online resources. Page 44 contains ideas for extension activities that challenge critical thinking and encourage writing.
Last fall, I reviewed the picture book, What do you do with a voice like that? The story of the extraordinary congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton. I was excited to add it to my 'Picture Book Biography Unit' for my sixth graders and went in search of a longer biography to add to my collection. Around the same time, I attended SLJ's Leadership Conference and learned that a brand new biography would be published by Abdo in the spring. Serendipity! Picture book biographies give students a taste for the subject and motivation to learn more. Harris' thoughtful rendering of the larger-than-life Jordan helps young researcher understand the complexities of the woman and the times. A solid purchase for any library.