Uhuru – Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II

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2020 Jack Straw writer Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II’s project is a graphic novel titled Uhuru, a pirate adventure story centering Black characters. In his conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the lack of Black representation in children’s literature, professional wrestling and Archie comics, and creating Black stories that expand beyond a monolithic experience. “One of the big things that really got me into creating my children’s book stories was the fact that every time I would read a story that had a Black protagonist, it always dealt with New York, Harlem, the country, civil rights or slavery. And my mindset was, we can fight dragons and be wizards and warlocks, too.”

Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II is an author from Seattle, WA. Since 2014, he has self-published three children’s books—The Family Jones and The Eggs of Rex, Why is Jane so Mad?, and Hi Blue Sky—to increase positive representation of children of color in books. In 2016, Jeffrey created the Seattle Urban Book Expo, with the mission of providing a platform for fellow authors of color to showcasing their literary arts in the Pacific Northwest.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

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