Broaching The Subject Of Slavery With Young Readers

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Michael Cottman on his book “Shackles from the Deep.”

Stephen Henderson/WDET

A couple months ago, Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson asked listeners what they thought made America great — what makes this country exceptional?

On one hand, it’s easy see the good — our freedoms, our rights, the timeless and aspirational ideals that our founding fathers laid out in our founding documents.

But it’s also impossible to ignore the scars. The greatest scar, of course, was the abducting and selling of an entire race of people as property. It’s a fundamental aspect of American history, and so it’s a subject any parent has to grapple with. How do you broach the subject of slavery with a child?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Michael Cottman attempts to do just that with a new book for young readers titled “Shackles from the Deep” in National Geographic Kids. It explores the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie.

The book’s description reads:

“It’s a journey that stretches across three continents, from foundries and tombs in England, to slave ports on the shores of West Africa, to present-day Caribbean plantations.”

Cottman joins Henderson on Detroit Today to talk about the book, as well as the importance of helping young readers understand the role slavery plays in our history as Americans.

“Young people who are going to read this book and digest it are our future leaders,” says Cottmen. “There’s opportunity in this book to show young people that… the slave trade is part of our collective history.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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