A powerful portrait of a Black family tree shaped by enslavement and freedom, rendered in searing poems by acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford and stunning art by her son Jeffery Boston Weatherford.
I call their names:Abram Alice Amey Arianna AntiquaI call their names:Isaac Jake James Jenny JimEvery last one, property of the Lloyds,the state's preeminent enslavers.Every last one, with a mind of their ownand a story that ain't yet been told.Till now.
Carole and Jeffery Boston Weatherford's ancestors are among the founders of Maryland. Their family history there extends more than three hundred years, but as with the genealogical searches of many African Americans with roots in slavery, their family tree can only be traced back five generations before going dark. And so from scraps of history, Carole and Jeffery have conjured the voices of their kin, creating an often painful but ultimately empowering story of who their people were in a breathtaking book that is at once deeply personal yet all too universal.
Carole's poems capture voices ranging from her ancestors to Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman to the plantation house and land itself that connects them all, and Jeffery's evocative illustrations help carry the story from the first mention of a forebear listed as property in a 1781 ledger to he and his mother's homegoing trip to Africa in 2016. Shaped by loss, erasure, and ultimate reclamation, this is the story of not only Carole and Jeffery's family, but of countless other Black families in America.