Author Carole Boston Weatherford, along with her son, illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford, presented a virtual author talk to Falmouth kindergarten through 4th graders on Wednesday morning, June 9. The presentation focused on the reading of “Juneteenth Jamboree,” Ms. Weatherford’s first book, published in 1995. The story centers around a young African American girl learning the significance of the celebration of Juneteenth within her new Texas town.
The reading is part of Juneteenth events held by the Falmouth Public Schools in observance of Juneteenth, now a state holiday. Assistant Superintendent Sonia Tellier, introduced the mother-son duo to Falmouth elementary students, thanking No Place For Hate-Falmouth and the Falmouth Education Foundation for supporting the virtual presentation. The FEF provided funding to give each classroom and library a copy of the book.
Ms. Weatherford began the talk by giving an explanation of what Juneteenth is and why it is celebrated. The pair quickly introduced themselves, providing background on how they began their creative careers, and presented some examples of their favorite books growing up. Mr. Weatherford also displayed his passion for illustrations, which began at the same age as many of the students watching the presentation.
Ms. Weatherford shared their family history of enslaved ancestors, Phillip Moaney and Isaac Copper, of which the latter fought in the US Colored Troops. Mr. Weatherford shared a poem detailing the hardships of those USCT soldiers to give more historical context to students before beginning the reading of “Juneteenth Jamboree.”
Following the book’s presentation, the floor was opened for students to ask questions. Many insightful and inquisitive comments were sent through Zoom. Some students expressed interest in reading other books published by Ms. Weatherford.
Ms. Tellier noted the comment section was filled with budding artists asking questions about the author and illustrator’s creative processes, such as how long does it take to write a book or how did you become so good at drawing?
The pair offered educational and inspirational words of advice. Mr. Weatherford, who has been practicing his craft from a very young age, told students, “Practice makes perfect, practice makes progress.”
As an author Ms. Weatherford has spent her career writing more than 60 books, most of which explore African American history from a child’s perspective. When asked by a student if slavery makes her sad, Ms. Weatherford responded by saying that more than sadness, she feels anger that her ancestors had to suffer in that way.
“I want people to know the history and give credit to generations past,” Ms. Weatherford said while explaining how she chooses her topics.
Ms. Weatherford uses her writing to relate the past to newer generations. She expressed to students how she is just “five generations removed from slavery,” further showing students how close that history still is to today.