As an author and educator, Yvette Manns knows how important it is that children see themselves in the world around them, whether it’s in a movie, on a concert stage or in a great book.
Unhappy with the lack of representation of Black and brown characters in children’s literature, Manns took it upon herself to write a book that not only celebrates Black people, but the magic of Black history and culture, too. Cue the birth of “HBCU Proud,” the story of a young child on a journey to learn the rich legacy of historically Black colleges and universities. Here latest book is “Cityrella: The Remix to the Traditional Cinderella Story.”
“For children, I want them to intentionally say if it’s a little black boy, ‘hey, he looks like me,’ or if it’s a little black girl, ‘hey, she looks like me,’ or ‘they look like someone I know,’ ” Manns told Atlanta Black Star in an exclusive interview. “I just want them to see themselves depicted in the pages of the book.”
As a first-generation college graduate and proud alumna of Clark Atlanta University, the New York native has made a career as a literacy researcher and educator. Manns, 33, now uses her work to inspire the next generation and spends time volunteering with aspiring primary school teachers at her alma mater, which partly served as inspiration for what she describes as a “realistic fiction” storybook for kids.
“I think so many times Black children have to experience someone else’s world through literature,” she said. “And so I want our children to read an enjoyable story. I want them to keep themselves first, and, secondly, I want them to learn about historically Black colleges and universities.”
“HBCU Proud” follows main character Q as he embarks on a tour at the illustrious Legacy University, where he gets his first taste of the Black college experience. On his visit, he soaks up the history, the people, the culture and importance of HBCUs and all they have to offer.
The historic colleges, which will receive a restored $255 million in annual funding thanks to a bipartisan bill signed by President Donald Trump late last year, offer Black students a unique experience rooted in tradition, and are known to produce the best and brightest future leaders. Notable figures including Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr. and Atlanta’s own Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms all attended HBCUs.
Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.