Archive | November, 2019

Veterans Day: Honoring the US Colored Troops & the Tuskegee Airmen

9 Nov

Pictured clockwise from top left: Isaac Copper, USCT; book cover of You Can Fly; illustration of U.S. Colored Troops by Jeffery Weatherford. 

My great-great grandfather Isaac Copper was born into slavery at Wye House, Maryland’s largest slave-holding plantation–once home to Frederick Douglass. As a young man, he was sold by his master to Union Troops and enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops 7th Infantry Regiment. He fought in the Siege of Petersburg and marched on Appomattox Courthouse, where Lee surrendered. Isaac went on to co-found the village of  Unionville on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

My father fought in the Pacific theater during World War II. He didn’t talk much about his military service or the war. But I thought of him when I wrote the verse novel YOU CAN FLY: THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN, which my son Jeffery Weatherford illustrated.

On Veterans’ Day, I salute my own ancestors and all veteran who fought for freedom and democracy.

Harriet, a film on the power of faith

5 Nov

As I watched the movie, HARRIET, I felt as if my book MOSES, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, were coming to life. However, to say that the movie, or my book, was faithful to her biography would be false. Masterfully executed, the film included composite and archetypal characters, as well as dramatic episodes which were not in the 1848 narrative that Harriet dictated to Sarah Bradford. Yet, the movie was true to Harriet’s faith journey. The spirits of Harriet, of William Still and of her enslaved kin and bands of runaways were conveyed with deserved magnitude. Harriet’s courageous exploits–on the Underground Railroad and as a Civil War spy–are legendary. Though barely five feet tall, the real-life Mother Tubman was larger than any myth, any movie, or for that matter, any piece of money that may bear her portrait. May her miracles continue to inspire.