Days of Jubilee

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2004

By Patricia C. and Fredrick L. McKissack, Reviewed by Laura Krull

Days of Jubilee book cover

Days of Jubilee by Patricia C. and Fredrick
L. McKissack; Scholastic Press: New York,
2003; $18.95

The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, with certain unalienable rights, which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At one point in American history, that wasn’t true for millions of African-Americans in bondage throughout America.

Scattered throughout the book were first-person narratives, which I greatly enjoyed reading. These stories about slaves and others were mixed with interesting facts about the Civil War. I also liked reading from the slaves’ perspective, and their stories touched my heart.

James Forten, a free African-American, was the very first story and it was also the best, in my opinion. I felt his courage inside of me, as he stood listening to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. He stayed to listen to the reading even though he was bullied by white men. James was overjoyed when he concluded that in this new country, people of color would be free. James eagerly joined the Revolutionary Army to help fight for freedom. I had his hope inside of me, as he believed that now, in this new world, his fellow brethren would have their freedom. And although the book didn’t mention it, I also felt his pain. I knew he would have later, when he learned that his fellow black men would stay in bondage for many more years. I admire him because he stood up for himself and his race.

Many years later, Abraham Lincoln also joined the fight for the abolition of slavery. He was the main force behind the emancipation of slaves, but he didn’t start out that way. I was surprised, and almost shocked, to learn that the Great Emancipator had doubts about abolishing slavery at the beginning of the Civil War. Now I see that he changed as the war went on; he made the war not just a fight for reuniting the Union, but also a fight for abolishing slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a great, brave leader, and he’s my hero.

Another leader at that time was General William Tecumseh Sherman. I believe General Sherman was a great man, and he shared many traits with Lincoln. Sherman treated the slaves fairly, giving them jobs with the army if they wanted. The newly freed blacks called him the Deliverer, somebody like Moses who came to set the people free.

The book was very well written, so well that as I read, I could envision myself celebrating among the freed slaves. I loved reading about the different days they called their Jubilee, such as Juneteenth and Eightamay. I felt their joy, hope, and happiness. I could imagine their delight, and feel their pride as they walked away from their former masters, free once and for all. As I read on, I also felt a sadness welling up inside of me, as I read about that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed. My heart mourned with all of the people. I felt the loss that happened so many years ago, and yet was recreated in my head, allowing Lincoln to live and die once again.

Days of Jubilee is a very good book. It teaches about a different time, different people, and different lifestyles. It opens you up into a whole new world.

Days of Jubilee Laura Krull

Laura Krull, 12
Bend, Oregon

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