Based on historical facts and Bibb's own writings, the story of a young slave's perilous journey to freedom.
Often shocking, always compelling, Afua Cooper's novel is based on the life of Henry Bibb, an American slave who after repeated attempts escaped in 1841 to become an anti-slavery speaker, author and founder of a Black newspaper. Cooper takes painstakingly researched details about slavery and weaves an intimate story of Bibb's young life, which is overshadowed by inconceivable brutality. At nine years old, Henry is separated from his mother and brothers and hired out, suffering abuse at the hands of cruel masters so severe he almost dies. Henry's courageous life is described in intimate detail and young readers will learn about everyday slave life on a plantation and in towns and cities, the coded language of slave escapes and the dangerous routes over land and water to safe houses. As Henry Bibb moves from boyhood to manhood, he knows that one day he will “fly away” as in the old legend of the Africans who flew away to freedom. The first-person narrative, convincingly told in Henry's voice, traces Bibb's boyhood, marriage, fatherhood and the developing awareness of his bondage and his determination to break free of it or die.
Afua Cooper is a multi-award-winning and celebrated speaker, scholar, historian, author, poet, performer and social and cultural commentator for organizations worldwide committed to building diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. In alignment with the recent global overtures to end racism, Dr. Cooper's mission is to end racism globally by helping organizations improve racial and ethnic justice in the workplace. She helps boards of directors set long-term strategies to become anti-racist organizations. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
There are many slave narratives about exciting escapes, but few tell of a young person's suffering with the close-up personal detail of this fictionalized biography.