Kadir Nelson

Cindy Seip

Kadir Nelson is an author, artist and illustrator. He has received many awards and honors for his work including for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans; the historical fiction bookHenry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford. He has also been recognized for his work in children’s books such as We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, his debut as an author; Ellington Was Not a Street, written by poet Ntozake Shange, and Just the Two of Us, written by Will Smith.  Originally performed for its namesake show in ESPN, the poem The Undefeated (Versify) is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review noted that “[T]his magnificent anthem to the courage and genius of black Americans has been turned into a picture book with stunning portraits by Nelson….communicating clearly that when black lives matter, America is stronger.”