MINNEAPOLIS — Author and anti-racist activist Ibram X. Kendi stopped by Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis to discuss his newest children’s book, “Magnolia Flower” on Sept. 15.
“Magnolia Flower” follows a young Afro-Indigenous girl who longs to find happiness and freedom as the child of parents who fled slavery and the Trail of Tears.
“I don’t think we should shy away from teaching children dark moments of history,” said Kendi. “[‘Magnolia Flower’] allows children to see that Black and Indigenous people still found love and joy in some of these horrific and dark moments.”
Kendi, who is best known for books such as “How to Be an Antiracist” and “Antiracist Baby,” adapted “Magnolia Flower” from one of the most prominent folklorists in 20th century African-American literature, Zora Neale Hurston.
“It's nerve-wracking because you want to ensure you are doing right by Nora Zeale Hurston. At the same time, it was exciting to bring Zora’s stories to the youngest of children,” said Kendi.
A father of a 6-year-old, Kendi says even he is still learning the balance of how to have tough conversations around topics like race and racism with his daughter.
“I think the biggest challenge is making the language accessible to young people; making sure it's appropriate for young people. The biggest opportunity is that if you share the truth to young people and it makes sense to them, they will receive it well,” said Kendi
So far, Kendi says he believes the book has been well-received by both parents and children alike.
“People are just really excited about the beauty of the story, and they are also learning about how layered it is and how much it invites conversations and questions for their kids,” said Kendi.
Minneapolis is the fifth stop on Kendi’s book tour and he says coming to the city was a must.
“It goes without saying that Minneapolis is one of the centers of the imagining of a new world. To be here and to be thinking with these people who changed the world in many ways is something that is exciting to me,” said Kendi.
“Magnolia Flower” is available for purchase on HarperCollins Publishers’ website.
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