In honor of Black History Month, we asked some of our authors and illustrators to reflect on the black historical figures who have meant the most to them. Today, Pamela Tuck, author of As Fast As Words Could Fly, reflects on Harriet Tubman:
I was “introduced” to Harriet Tubman in history class, and her story empowered me. As soon as people hear her name, they instantly think of an African American woman who led slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. The courage and bravery she exerted in risking her life shows how she also empowered others to believe in themselves and the promise of freedom. Harriet Tubman’s journey proves how one person can empower a community, a nation, or even the world.
As Fast As Words Could Fly tells the story of Mason, a teenager growing up in North Carolina who becomes one of the first black students to attend an all-white high school. In this guest post, we interview author Pamela M. Tuck’s father, Moses Teel Jr., whose experience during integration inspired the New Voices award-winning title.
Lee & Low: In the Author’s Note, it says that you used your “typing talent to defy the prejudices of people who considered [you] inferior.” Did you also participate in a typing contest similar to the one Mason was in? What was that experience like?
Moses Teel Jr.: Yes. In my typing class, we had five-minute timed typing exercises. Five strokes counted for one word and every error took one word away from your total word count. I participated in a lot of these classroom competitions and won. That’s what helped me qualify for the tournament. By the time I had to compete, I felt pretty confident in my skill and I stayed focused by telling myself, “I can do this.”