Now Is Your Time!: The African-American Struggle for Freedom
Now Is Your Time!: The African-American Struggle for Freedom
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Annotation: A history of the African-American struggle for freedom and equality, beginning with the capture of Africans in 1619, continuing through the American Revolution, the Civil War, and into contemporary times.
Catalog Number: #218381
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 1991
Edition Date: 1991
Pages: 292 p.
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-446120-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-5686-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-446120-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-5686-0
Dewey: 973
LCCN: 91000314
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Slaves, soldiers, inventors, political leaders, and artists. Novelist Myers traces the path of African Americans--some in his own family--through American history, turning in an entertaining work recommended for personal reading and curricular use. Interwoven with his narrative of historical events are brief biographical sketches of influential and ordinary people. Both the strength and the weakness of this book, these vignettes add vital personal information to dry political and military details. But they also halt the flow of Myers' narration, which may prove troublesome for younger readers. Still, Myers is a compelling writer, and his unifying theme of the constant struggle for freedom will be inspirational to many. This is one history book that's easy to booktalk and designed to lead to further reading. To be illustrated with photographs. A bibliography is planned. (Reviewed Nov. 1, 1991)
Horn Book
Phot. A potpourri of African-American history, from slavery to the civil rights movement of the sixties. Courageous tales of heroes and heroines, including the author's own family, intersperse this interesting text. An impressive, diverse list of references, including slave narratives, provide rich source material. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
What happens when a gifted novelist (Scorpions, 1988, Newbery Honor) chooses to write the story of his people? <p> What happens when a gifted novelist (Scorpions, 1988, Newbery Honor) chooses to write the story of his people? In this case, the result is engrossing history with a strong unifying theme, the narrative enriched with accounts of outstanding lives. With well-chosen specifics and lucid generalizations, Myers recounts the history of African-Americans, skillfully providing a context for longer treatment of events with far-reaching significance (e.g., the involvement of black soldiers in the Civil War or landmark cases like Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education). Most compelling are the interwoven stories of representative African-Americans, bringing the history vividly to life: Ibrahima, unconquerable African prince; James Forten, entrepreneur; George Latimer, a fugitive who won his freedom but ended his life ``a deeply troubled man''; Ida B. Wells, journalist; Meta Vaux Warrick, sculptor; and many more. The complex emotions generated by the more recent Civil Rights movement make it difficult to summarize, but even here Myers's entire presentation is dignified, well balanced, and without rancor, reflecting--like many of the lives he depicts--the movement's generous spirit. Speaking as an African-American, Myers concludes with an eloquent homily recalling the noble qualities of the people he has described and reminding readers that we should ``be no less than we can be'' and that ``before you can go forward, you must know where you have been.'' For Americans of any color, he makes a notably persuasive case for doing both. Bibliography; b&w photos and index not seen. (Nonfiction. 11+)</p> "
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-- An attractive, interestingly written book that combines biographical vignettes with narrative history. By highlighting several generations of specific families, Myers eloquently conveys how they were present at, and participated in, the events that formed our nation. His chapter, ``To Be a Slave'' is full of fascinating and moving primary-source materials that are thoughtfully analyzed. Complex subjects like the meaning of the Constitutional Convention and the Dred Scott case are made comprehensible. Yet, interspersing biographies within the narrative creates confusing transitions. Also, the sense of time and historical development is in some cases lost, as in the chapter in which the pre-Revolution colonists' ways of establishing a slave labor system are illustrated with quotations from the 1840s and 1850s. Focus and historical significance are not always clear. For instance, through the 1920s the most famous African-Americans are bypassed in favor of vignettes of courageous lesser-known people; in the final two chapters people of this sort disappear, with the emphasis shifting to prominent leaders of the 1950s and '60s. Have the criteria for who is ``important'' changed? The ``Author's Note'' and the ``Select Bibliography'' provide some mention of where Myers obtained the information, but the text isn't fully documented. Some quotations cite no sources. It appears that thoughts and feelings are fictionalized in the biographies, but this is not mentioned in the note. What this book does in connecting a wide variety of African-Americans with their time in American history is unique. Despite its limitations, it should have a wide audience. But histories for young readers that adequately reflect the excellent research of recent years on the African-American experience are yet to come. --Loretta Kreider Andrews, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. [278]-281) and index.
Word Count: 48,016
Reading Level: 8.3
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 8.3 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 7015 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.8 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q08505
Lexile: 1030L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y
Now Is Your Time!
The African-American Struggle for Freedom

Chapter One

The Land

To understand the story of the African-American experience, we have to begin with the land. North America, incredibly rich and beautiful, stretching forever westward from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, was irresistible. There were mountain ranges through which rivers coursed, bringing minerals to the lush valleys and plains below. That the climate was right for agriculture was evident from the crops of the brown- and copperskinned people we call Native Americans today.

For Europe it was the age of exploration. Kings and queens, wealthy merchants, sometimes even private individuals, hired ships to travel the world. They were chiefly looking for faster trade routes to the Far East and new sources of gold, silver, and spices. What they found in their travels westward was the land that would one day become the United States.

Living on this land were many different groups of peoples: The Navaho were largely nomadic, constantly on the move, while the Seneca had lived in a relatively small area of the northeast for hundreds of years. Toward the middle of the continent the Erie Indians lived in the area of the Great Lakes. The Seminole were largely in the southeast, while in the southwest the Hopi built three- and four-story structures, sometimes with hundreds of rooms.

These peoples had lived on this land with their villages, their governments, their beliefs, and their customs, for thousands of years.

The Europeans called the land North America, after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Earlier Christopher Columbus, an explorer sailing under the flag of Spain, had reached the island of San Salvador, south of Florida, and had called the people he found there "Indians." Soon the Europeans were calling all the peoples of North America Indians.

While some explorers were crossing the Atlantic Ocean, others, such as Diogo Cao and Bartholomeu Dias of Portugal, were making important discoveries along the west coast of Africa.

Griots--African storytellers--speak of African kingdoms that stretch back hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. By the ninth century the religion of Islam had spread its influence among the early inhabitants of ancient Ghana. The kingdom of Ghana gave way to that of Mali, with its center of learning at Timbuktu and the beginnings of the gold trade across the Sahara Desert, and by the end of the fifteenth century, Sunni Ali Ber and Askia Muhammad I, the great leaders of the powerful Songhai Empire, were legendary figures.

In the 1400's, long caravans of traders made their way from the forests of the Yoruba across the continent to Egypt in east Africa. Merchants from France, England, India, and Holland traded for African gold and ivory in crowded north-African markets. But sub-Saharan Africa was cut off from Europe by the desert.

In the early sixteenth century, when Europeans began to explore the world by ship, the riches of the west African coast were discovered. Soon Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English companies began to build trading posts along the coast. They also sought colonies in what they called the "New World."

In 1584 the Englishman Walter Raleigh started such a colony on the eastern coast of North America in a place he called Virginia. The early colonists found no cities in North America to rival those in Great Britain and Europe. What they did find was a land of richness and beauty and the possibility of enormous wealth that free land promised.

English, Dutch, and Spanish settlements sprang up along the east coast of North America, while smaller Spanish and French settlements appeared in the west. English settlements were named Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland. New Amsterdam was Dutch, and Florida was claimed by the Spanish.

The largest tracts of land were settled by the British, who sent hundreds of settlers to the southern part of the continent with offers of free land for people who would promise to develop it. The idea, of course, was that the people developing the land would be British, and so the British Empire, already the largest in the world, would continue to grow.

In a world in which most people survived by farming, the land grants were extremely attractive. America was described by many as the best poor man's country in the world. The cost of buying land in America was less than the annual taxes would have been on the same land if it had been in England.

Typical in many ways of the early American colonists were two English brothers, William and John Dandridge. William, a handsome, self-assured man with a great sense of presence, was an officer in the Royal Navy. Young John, only fourteen years old but bright and ambitious like his brother, was still looking for a profession. They left behind another brother, Bartholomew Dandridge, who became a noted portrait painter. His paintings are on display in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The opportunities for the Dandridges, had they remained in England, were only fair; in America, with hard work and inexpensive land, they might make their fortunes. Around the year 1711, uncertain of what life would be like in the largely unpopulated land, they decided to try their luck. William Dandridge settled in Virginia, near the Pamunkey River; John would later build a house nearby on the other side of the same river.

The Dandridges, like many colonists who came to North America, were to become closely entangled with the lives of the Africans who were brought there. Through the course of this book we will follow their story over the years.

The land was plentiful and rich, but who would work it? It didn't make sense for a colonist to work for somebody else when land down the road could be had for practically nothing. It became clear that what was needed in the new colonies was a new supply of laborers whose ambitions could be limited. Now Is Your Time!
The African-American Struggle for Freedom
. Copyright © by Walter Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Now Is Your Time!: The African-American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

History has made me an African American. It is an Africa that I have come from, and an America that I have helped to create.

Since they were first brought as captives to Virginia, the people who would become African Americans have struggled for freedom. Thousands fought for the rights of all Americans during the Revolutionary War, and for their own rights during the Civil War. On the battlefield, through education, and through their creative genius, they have worked toward one goal: that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be denied no one.

Fired by the legacy of men and women like Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, Ida B. Wells, and George Latimer, the struggle continues today. Here is African-American history, told through the stories of the people whose experiences have shaped and continue to shape the America in which we live.

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