Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrations by R. Gregory Christie
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Release Date: January 5, 2016
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves' duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.
A beautifully illustrated book that made me realize, yet again, that I really need to visit New Orleans. There is so much history there that I just know so little about and this is yet another glaring display of my ignorance. Congo Square, a place that still exists today, was a place where slaves could gather on their onw day off from work, as was required by law. Because such a law and a place existed, the slaves of New Orleans were uniquely able to pass on their music, language, and traditions from their African homes. It is perhaps one of the many reasons why New Orleans is so unique not only as a place, but because of the rich cultural heritage that was able to be passed down, unlike many other places where enslaved people lived.
I think this book has finally inspired me (as any good book should) to read a book on New Orleans history and then perhaps start planning a vacation there.