RACISM, REPRESENTATION, AND RESISTANCE in Children's Literature 1800 - 2015

Some illustrations in this exhibit depict jarring racial stereotypes and caricatures of African Americans and other communities of color. They prove a long legacy of racism in the United States, Great Britain, and other Western European countries. From the 1800s - 1960s, children’s authors and illustrators created racist stories and images by exaggerating language, behavior, and physical attributes. These books negatively shaped children’s perspectives about people of color and established standards for racial stereotypes.


Racism, Representation, and Resistance illustrates the power of children’s literature to shape young minds. The exhibit explores the long history of racism in children’s literature by examining the dehumanization and colonization

of people of color, primarily Africans and African Americans, through images of minstrelism and colonialism.


It also explores how self-representational children’s books by African American authors resisted and subverted

racist ideologies. These new books countered racism with fictional and nonfictional accounts of the Black experience. We encourage you to study the books in this exhibit to understand how literature contributes to our ideas about race and racism.

This online exhibition is based on the exhibition of the same name that was presented at the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries,

August 13 - October 5, 2018.


Curated by Suzan Alteri, Stephanie Birch, and Dr. Hélène Huet   |   Designed by Lourdes Santamaría-Wheeler