NFL Safety and children’s author Shamiel Gary 

Last week, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic forcibly closed school districts across the country and parents everywhere were asked to take on a new role—teacher. Homeschooling is definitely going to be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be burdensome. This time at home with our children can be a real gift for the Black community—a time that we can use to bond with our Black children and teach them about our amazing history and our resiliency as a people.

For decades, Black students have been educationally disenfranchised—forced to learn history from and about a hegemonic American culture. The damage this has caused is immeasurable, yet widely felt in and throughout America’s Black community. It presents in the form of a broken collective cultural-consciousness.

So, when it comes to our cultural history, it falls on Black parents to teach their children regardless. Now you have the time to teach your children about the Black cultural excellence and brilliance they may have missed in school.

If you’re busy working from home or applying for remote jobs to ensure you’re making ends meet for your family while nationwide shutdowns transform our daily lives, your kids can be just as active with literature purchased online—or even from Black bookstore owners that ensure Black dollars are still circulating in our community like they once did during Black Wall Street’s golden era. They can read books written by America’s most prominent and influential Black authors and our accomplices as their primary lessons, instead of in addition to their lessons. 

I’m sure you have your own ideas about literature you can introduce to your children right now. And if not, here are three of my favorites to get you started:

  • Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X” by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, is an inspiring picture book and biography that celebrates a vision of freedom and justice, and it’s an excellent way to introduce your children to the legendary civil right’s icon. 
  • Life of Lahray,” written by NFL safety Shamiel Gary is a book about a little Black girl whose girl-dad reminds her that she can do anything if she puts her mind to it because she’s unique.
  • A great history book for advanced fifth-grade readers and up is “American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt,” written by national bestselling author Daniel Rasmussen. He’s not Black, but he is no doubt an accomplice. His nonfiction literary work gives the most accurate chronicle of the German Coast Slave Revolt, a historical event largely unknown to mainstream public education and its students.

There are many great books relating to the Black experience and Black History, or recommended especially for Black children, to help you keep your child academically engaged during these trying times. So, remain motivated. Check online with your local library and see if they offer an e-reader format. Check Amazon for book deals. Many books are priced affordably, and some are even free. 

If you have suggestions, please add them in the comments so we can build a list together!

Good luck, and stay safe.

Nehemiah Frank is a fierce advocate for charter and community schools. He has public policy experience and is the founder and editor in chief of the Black Wall St. Times. Frank is also a middle school teacher at Oklahoma’s top performing charter school, Sankofa Middle School of the Performing Arts a member of the Deborah Brown Community Schools.


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