Alain Locke Board Chair Claire Hartfield has received the 2019 “Author” award from the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Book Awards for her latest book, “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919.”
The American Library Association’s CSK awards are presented once a year to African-American authors and illustrators whose children’s books shine light on African-American culture and humanity as a whole. The awards are the namesake of Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A Few Red Drops” covers the events that took place after a black teenager was killed by a group of young whites after breeching an unofficial line of segregation at a Lake Michigan beach. Thirty-eight people had died by the time the eight-day riot was finally over, according to History.com.
In a recent interview, Hartfield told WBEZ the she herself first learned of the 1919 riot from her grandmother, who experienced the event firsthand as a young woman living in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
For young people of today growing up amid racial tensions fueled by events such as those in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, Hartfield said she hopes her book will help draw parallels between the 1919 riot and their own life experiences.
“[Young people] are very aware of what’s going on in our society right now,” she explained. “But they see it through a very narrow lens of their own lives. And they don’t have the structures and the experience and the breadth of history to place what’s going on into a context.”
She said she hopes “A Few Red Drops” can help young people to contemplate, “‘What went wrong? What was handled badly? How can we handle it better today?’ And begin to put together ideas for how to do it better this time.”
For more on Ms. Hartfield’s books, visit clairehartfield.com.
Visit ala.org to see the full list of 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Award winners.