Alice Faye Duncan’s books put spotlight on Black history for kids

When news services reported earlier this month that 33 members of Congress had signed a letter nominating 95-year-old Texas schoolteacher and activist Opal Lee for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, a Memphis woman had special reason to celebrate.

“This is amazing to my soul,” said Alice Faye Duncan. “Do you realize that my book is the first official biography that has been published about her life of her?”

Released in January, Duncan’s “Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth” is a 32-page picture book that recounts the hard-fought end of slavery in the US and Lee’s struggle to have the effort recognized with a federal holiday.

According to a review in Booklist, the journal of the American Library Association, Duncan’s tome — filled with colorful, painterly illustrations by Ohio artist Keturah A. Bobo — presents “a joyous account of Juneteenth’s meaning that doesn’t overlook the harsher aspects of history or the work that is yet to be done.”

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