They Built Me for Freedom : The Story of Juneteenth and Houston's Emancipation Park

$19.99 USD

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A vibrant, moving picture book about the history of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas—and the origins of Juneteenth.

When people visit me, they are freeto run, play, gather, and rejoice.

They built me to remember.

On June 19, 1865, the 250,000 enslaved people of Texas learned they were free, ending slavery in the United States. This day was soon to be memorialized with the dedication of a park in Houston. The park was called Emancipation Park, and the day it honored would come to be known as Juneteenth.  

In the voice and memory of the park itself—its fields and pools, its protests and cookouts, and, most of all, its people—the 150-year story of Emancipation Park is brought to life. Through lyrical text and vibrant artwork, Tonya Duncan Ellis and Jenin Mohammed have crafted an ode to the struggle, triumph, courage, and joy of Black America—and the promise of a people to remember.

Tonya Duncan Ellis is a former journalist and the author of the Sophie Washington series. She lives in Houston, Texas

Jenin Mohammed, winner of the 2020 Summer Spectacular Illustration Grand Prize, is the illustrator of the picture books Naming Ceremony, Song in the CitySuper Mom, and All the Places We Call Home. She also draws the slice-of-life comic Knot Write Now. She lives in Florida.

"In this moving tribute to Houston’s Emancipation Park, rousing prose lingers on the park’s creation as well as its seasonal transformation during years of use, neglect, and rejuvenation. Mohammed’s layered application of color and printmaking textures reflect the past and present." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Ellis' picture book celebrat[es] the history behind Emancipation Park. Mohammed's illustrations seem infused with sunlight, white space haloing the clear colors of greenery, children of many hues, and blue skies puffed with clouds. A happy book that shows young readers how public spaces can be created and saved to serve their communities." -Booklist


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