Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

I love learning about new people who have done remarkable things. Last month, on the MommyMaestra Facebook page, I asked my followers who they would include on a list of Latinos who impacted U.S. history. The response was overwhelming.

One of the names mentioned was Arturo Schomburg. I had not heard of him before. But a little research quickly led to a description of his inspirational contributions. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Schomburg's mother was a freeborn black midwife and his father was a German merchant.

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was only in grade school when one of his teachers claimed that blacks had no history, heroes, or accomplishments (I know! What a horrible person!). That comment stayed with Schomburg, who vowed to prove her wrong and began a lifelong collection of books, letters, music, and art documenting the accomplishments of Africans and the African diaspora.

When he was 17, Schomburg moved to New York and his collection continued to grow. Eventually, it outgrew his home and became the basis for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library (which he curated himself).

Candlewick Press has a beautiful new picture book out telling this Afro-Latino's life story. Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library chronicles his adventures from when he was a young boy up through adulthood. And it is all written in free verse poetry, which makes it even more special.

Really, the whole book is a work of art because in addition to being beautifully written, the most remarkable part of this book, in my opinion, are the illustrations. Created by Eric Velasquez, each page is a portrait that I just want to sit and stare at. Take a look...


The back of the book even contains a timeline of his life.

And, yes! It is also available in Spanish.

Request this new title at your local library or bookstore. Or you can purchase it from Amazon:


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