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Raleigh Author Among Summer Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced their Summer 2019 Okra Picks, the twelve new books that Southern indie booksellers are most excited about this season.

Among them is Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations (Nancy Paulsen Books) by Raleigh author Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrations by Keith Mallett. Just in time for the 120th anniversary of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” this stirring book celebrates the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

In 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. It has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

Inspired by this song’s enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song’s inspiring words.

Publisher’s Weekly said:

“Lyons delivers the history of a song that has inspired generations of African-Americans to persist and resist in the face of racism and systemic oppression. . . . Vibrant, realistic illustrations and painstaking facial detail. . . . Bold colors lend emotion to scenes of hope and adversity. . . . All the while, each generation passes the lyrics along, and a final page urges readers to ‘keep singing . . . keep on keeping on.’ A heartfelt history of a historic anthem.”

Other books included in SIBA’s Summer 2019 Okra Picks include Late Migrations:  a Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions); The Edge of America by Jon Sealy (Haywire Books); and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (DoubleDay).

Taken together, the Okra Picks are not your average summer reading list—each book was chosen because it is Southern in nature and has devoted fans in the Southern indie bookselling community. The Summer Okra Picks release in July, August, and September, and every book on the list has a Southern bookseller ready to put it in the hands of readers with that most exciting phrase in the English language, “You’ve got to read this!”

For the complete list, click here.