It All Started in Africa, a children’s book by Robson resident Suzanne Bowman Williams, has just been published by Lucid Books. The tale, in the form of an autobiographical poem, traces a family from their roots in Africa, through their uprooting from their native land to becoming enslaved in America to their eventual freedom and success today.
A retired elementary school teacher, Suzanne began writing and telling the tale to her young students back in Oceanside, Calif. and has also shared it in local Casa Grande schools.
The genesis of the story: Suzanne sought a story to share with her fifth grade students for Black History Month that would give an overview of African-American history. She writes, “I found many great books on various facets of Black history, but none that presented its scope over thousands of years.” Recalling a photo of her great-grandparents who had escaped enslavement, she decided to use her own family’s story. Eventually these components were developed into this book.
As a member of the former writers’ workshop, Write On…, facilitated by Jaine Toth here at Robson Ranch, Suzanne polished the work with the aid and encouragement of the group.
Helping the story come to life are the illustrations drawn by her granddaughter, Evelynn Jeanette, a high school senior who uses her artistic knowledge and talent to teach art to young children in southern California.
Discussion questions and a glossary at the back of the book can assist parents and teachers in using the story as an educational opportunity to bring children an understanding of African-American history while also challenging them to make good choices that will benefit themselves and those around them—now and into the future.
It All Started in Africa is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Suzanne is available for presentations to local schools and libraries. She can be contacted via email at [email protected]