This Is For 'The Undefeated': A New Picture Book Celebrates Black Brilliance

Artist Kadir Nelson illustrates Kwame Alexander's poem "The Undefeated" in a new picture book.

Kadir Nelson/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In The Undefeated, artist Kadir Nelson illustrates generations of black American heroes "emerging from the shadows."

"It begins with Jesse Owens literally jumping out of the darkness into the light ..." Nelson says. "By the time we get to toward the middle and end of the book those shadows have disappeared and the brilliance and excellence of the subjects have completely emerged into the bright light."

The text of the book is a poem Kwame Alexander wrote in 2008. Alexander's second daughter, Samayah had just been born, and Barack Obama had recently won election as the first African-American president of the United States. "This poem was my tribute to both," Alexander writes.

Read more on NPR by Ari Shapiro as heard on All Things Considered

Tech+MediaRichard Kang