Magnolia Flower

To write this text, Ibram X. Kendi adapted a short story written in the 1920’s by Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was an author, anthropologist and filmmaker and wrote many works capturing Black culture, folklore and history. This book is about the beauty of love and also introduces young readers to the history of the Maroons, Blacks who escaped enslavement and formed their own settlements, in some cases, with Native Americans.
Magnolia Flower is a young girl born to a father who escaped enslavement and a mother who survived the Trail of Tears. Magnolia is determined to live a life that is filled with love and freedom, even if her parents aren’t sure her choices will lead her there. This is a fantastic text for introducing the genre of historical fiction and sparking curiosity about critical historical events that are not often portrayed in picture books. The layers of learning are thick and the illustrations do justice to this beautiful story.

Social Justice Activities:

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Justice 12. Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Justice 15. Students will identify figures, groups, events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.

Reading Strategies:

Perspective: Whose perspective is the story told from (the river's). Why do you think the author choose to tell the story from the river's perspective. How would the story be different it told by someone else's perspective?

Author's Craft: Why does the author choose to write this book? Why is this history important to know?

Genre: This book is considered Black cultural folklore. What does that mean? How is it different from mythology, oral story telling and fairy tales?

Comparing Genres: Compare this text with Black is a Rainbow Color which also discusses magnolia flowers.

Teacher Resources:

Book Details:
  • Historical Fiction All Ages
  • Perspectives: Oklahoma communities
  • Author's stated heritage: African American
  • Subject Integration: History

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain