That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World


Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Wayne State University Press
Publish Date
8.0 X 7.9 X 0.4 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Rochelle Riley is Director of Arts and Culture for the city of Detroit. The author, essayist, and arts advocate ended a nearly twenty-year stint in 2019 as a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where she was an award-winning voice for children and advocate for improved education, government, and race relations. She is editor of The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery (Wayne State University Press, 2018). She calls herself "a writer by trade, warrior by necessity." Cristi Smith-Jones is a stay-at-home mom turned amateur photographer, who lives with her husband and daughters, Lola and Eden (and their cat, dog, and chickens) in Kent, WA. She enjoys finding creative ways to bring art and history to life for her girls and dedicates her efforts at documenting history to her grandmother, Mary Smith, who died in 2019. "She was the first African-American woman to change MY world," Cristi says.


Bringing influential Black American names from across disciplines down to earth, That They Lived is an educational, appealing photographic work that skillfully juxtaposes the past with the present.

--Karen Rigby "Foreword Reviews"

[Starred Review] Books that tell childhood stories of notable people are beloved by young readers, and That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World makes a fantastic addition to this category. Every page of this book has been tailor-made to appeal to young people, from Riley's thoughtful profiles to the way Smith-Jones stages each portrait to honor the spirit of its subject rather than merely imitate the original photograph. Her attention to small details is extraordinary, such as Shirley Chisholm's horn-rimmed glasses and Duke Ellington's pocket square.

--Alice Cary "BookPage"

A welcome and informative celebration of African American contributions and achievements, "That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library African American History collections for children ages 8-12.

--James A. Cox "Midwest Book Review"

It is true that children can only become what they see. That They Lived provides that window on the world of African Americans who achieved greatness, often against the odds. Riley's words combined with Smith-Jones's beautiful and touching photography make these history-makers accessible for children and adults alike.

--Terri Lee Freeman "president, National Civil Rights Museum"

The moment my son begins to read, I will give him this fascinating book. The chance to experience our Black heroes' younger lives gives our children the confidence to pursue the greatness of their own. We know how the world sees us, so it's essential to ensure that our children see themselves as powerful before sending them out in it. Rochelle and Cristi's book is an elegant and profound means to help them do just that.

--Qasim Basir "filmmaker"

The children's book proves African Americans are more than descendants of the enslaved. Black history is rich with inventors, explorers, educators, athletes, politicians, and champions who transformed society. "That They Lived" is a collection of human greatness to inspire all children because perseverance and purpose are universal.

--Suzette Martinez Standring "columnist for The Patriot Ledger"