The Diversity(?) of Library Collections 5 by Indigenous creators, significant improvements are needed both in encour- aging the growth of Native creators and in publishing and marketing their stories. While depictions of Native peoples are featured throughout ­ Caldecott- and Newbery-honored books, they are predominantly depicted with harmful stereotypes and offensive caricatures, an unfortunately com- mon and problematic occurrence throughout publishing. Another honor winner, this time for the Newbery, became a first. Arna Bontemps won a 1949 Newbery Honor for Story of the Negro, making him the first Black author to win a major ALA award.17 1950s The 1950s did not add much to the conversation of diversity in literature, as there were few milestones in the decade. The first Newbery winner to feature a Black protagonist was awarded in 1951: Amos Fortune: Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates, a white author. The biographical novel is based on a real Black man who was captured and forced into slavery and who eventually works his way back to freedom. However authentic the representation may have been in the narrative, it is yet another fictionalized representation of a Black person as a slave.18 Continual depiction of Black people solely in the context of historical fiction (and most predominantly through the trauma of enslavement) creates the false narrative that the foul exploitation and injus- tice towards Black people are a historic event and not an ongoing abuse. The 1958 Newbery Medalist was similarly problematic—Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith. He won “the Newbery Medal on the understanding that some of the stereotypical language about African Americans will be changed in the second print. The changes were quietly made without the author’s knowledge or consent.”19 The language was reverted back to its original text by the third printing at Keith’s demand. While there appeared to be little movement in shifting society through literature, the U.S. Supreme Court made a greater impact. What started as five separate cases in various court circuits was brought together as a single case: Brown v. Board of Education, in which “the main issue in each was the constitutionality of state-sponsored segregation in public schools.”20 The case was decided in 1954. After two years of trials, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous decision to desegregate schools, saying “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. ­ Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”21 This was an important moment in racial justice in America, and yet it seems that every moment of justice is paired with vengeful, white supremacist–motivated tragedy. In August 1955 14-year-old Emmett Till was accused of whistling at a white woman, for which his revolting punishment was to be kidnapped and bru- tally murdered by white men who, though confessing to the heinous crime, were acquitted by an all-white jury.22
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