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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The written word is a powerful tool. Used carefully and effectively, it can change the way the world looks at specific issues. Robert Sengstacke Abbott was well aware of the power of the written word, having helped his step-father produce a community paper in Georgia. Born into a black family with a lengthy history of slavery and survival, Robert followed his step-father’s ideal of helping others, both black and white, and particularly teaching the black population so they wouldn’t be taken advantage of. Robert taught for a while, studied law, and finally started his own newspaper, The Chicago Defender, using mere pennies and doing all the work himself to get the first issues on the street. From its meager beginnings, this newspaper spoke loud and clear about equal rights for everyone. At one point, Robert was so outspoken that it wasn’t safe for him to visit the southern states where white dominant factions plotted his demise. From pennies to fortune, Robert never forgot his heritage and always shared his financial successes with those in need.
Susan Engle’s children’s biography, Robert Sengstacke Abbott: A Man, a Paper, and a Parade, is both historically fascinating and inspirational. This is a story that all children should read or have read to them. Stories about amazing people in our past, both black and white, need to be shared in a similar awesome style to give young people examples to look up to. The story is well told, with interesting illustrations and anecdotes. Resources are provided at the end of the book to encourage young readers to study further, including a Timeline, Notes, and a concise Bibliography. A wonderful story told with passion.