Reviews for Now Is Your Time! : The African-american Struggle for Freedom

Kirkus Reviews 1991 December
What happens when a gifted novelist (Scorpions, 1988, Newbery Honor) chooses to write the story of his people? In this case, the result is engrossing history with a strong unifying theme, the narrative enriched with accounts of outstanding lives. With well-chosen specifics and lucid generalizations, Myers recounts the history of African-Americans, skillfully providing a context for longer treatment of events with far-reaching significance (e.g., the involvement of black soldiers in the Civil War or landmark cases like Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education). Most compelling are the interwoven stories of representative African-Americans, bringing the history vividly to life: Ibrahima, unconquerable African prince; James Forten, entrepreneur; George Latimer, a fugitive who won his freedom but ended his life ``a deeply troubled man''; Ida B. Wells, journalist; Meta Vaux Warrick, sculptor; and many more. The complex emotions generated by the more recent Civil Rights movement make it difficult to summarize, but even here Myers's entire presentation is dignified, well balanced, and without rancor, reflecting--like many of the lives he depicts--the movement's generous spirit. Speaking as an African-American, Myers concludes with an eloquent homily recalling the noble qualities of the people he has described and reminding readers that we should ``be no less than we can be'' and that ``before you can go forward, you must know where you have been.'' For Americans of any color, he makes a notably persuasive case for doing both. Bibliography; b&w photos and index not seen. (Nonfiction. 11+) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1991 November #1
Combining the emotional and plot-weaving powers of his novelist talents with a strong author's presence, Myers portrays the quests of individual Africans against the background of broader historical movements. Instead of a comprehensive, strict chronology, Myers offers, through freed slave Ibrahima, investigative reporter Ida Wells, artist Meta Warrick Fuller, inventor George Latimore, artist Dred Scott, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and others, history at its best--along with deeper understanding of past and contemporary events. Readers will grasp reasons behind incidents ranging from bewildering Supreme Court decisions to the historical need for the black extended family. Intriguing and rousing. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 11-up. (Nov.) Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 1992 March
Gr 6 Up-- An attractive, interestingly written book that combines biographical vignettes with narrative history. By highlighting several generations of specific families, Myers eloquently conveys how they were present at, and participated in, the events that formed our nation. His chapter, ``To Be a Slave'' is full of fascinating and moving primary-source materials that are thoughtfully analyzed. Complex subjects like the meaning of the Constitutional Convention and the Dred Scott case are made comprehensible. Yet, interspersing biographies within the narrative creates confusing transitions. Also, the sense of time and historical development is in some cases lost, as in the chapter in which the pre-Revolution colonists' ways of establishing a slave labor system are illustrated with quotations from the 1840s and 1850s. Focus and historical significance are not always clear. For instance, through the 1920s the most famous African-Americans are bypassed in favor of vignettes of courageous lesser-known people; in the final two chapters people of this sort disappear, with the emphasis shifting to prominent leaders of the 1950s and '60s. Have the criteria for who is ``important'' changed? The ``Author's Note'' and the ``Select Bibliography'' provide some mention of where Myers obtained the information, but the text isn't fully documented. Some quotations cite no sources. It appears that thoughts and feelings are fictionalized in the biographies, but this is not mentioned in the note. What this book does in connecting a wide variety of African-Americans with their time in American history is unique. Despite its limitations, it should have a wide audience. But histories for young readers that adequately reflect the excellent research of recent years on the African-American experience are yet to come. --Loretta Kreider Andrews, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.