Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), R. Greogry Christie (Illustrator)
A story of hope
It is 1817 and the slaves in Louisiana were hard at work. They ploughed the fields, fed the hogs, chopped the logs and washed the clothes. Every day was a day of hard work and labor. Slavery was not fair, but it existed in the early 1800’s in the city of New Orleans.
A new law came to pass which declared Sunday a day of rest. Even the slaves were allowed to take Sunday’s off. On this day, the day that the slaves looked forward to during the week, the slaves were allowed to gather at various locations. In New Orleans, this location came to be known as the Congo Square.
Each week hundreds of slaves and free blacks gathered at Congo Square. In some city’s such gatherings were forbidden. In other city music was strictly banned. But in the city of New Orleans, the African rhythms, culture and customs came alive on that 1 day of the week. people gathered freely. They beat the African drums and danced to African music. The musicians played the violin, the drums, the gourd, marimbas and the tambourines. Local whites and visitors came to the Congo Square too, to experience the lively music and dance.
This piece of Earth was a world apart,
Congo Square was freedom’s heart.
“Freedom in Congo Square” is a vibrant picture book written in verse captures the essence of the African culture during a difficult time. A countdown from Monday to Sunday gives us a glimpse of the hard life of slavery that this people lived. However, when Sunday arrives, the theme and emotion changes to that of hope and celebration… celebrating the day of freedom in Congo Square, when the slaves came together to greet and enjoy their culture.
They rejoiced as if they had no cares;
half day, half free in Congo Square.
The vibrant yellow and orange color spreads with the long dark silhouette figures show the toil alongside the joy. The folk tale like art work accompanied by pictures of masks, drums and other instruments capture the essence of the culture. Beautifully executed, Freedom in Congo Square showcases the powerful resilience of the people. A MUST read for every age! Highly recommended!
FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!