Heart and Soul


In his character's words from the Introduction, Nelson writes:

You have to know where you come from so you can move forward. (page 7)

Rich with full-page drawings of American life from the Revolution to the present day, Heart and Soul vividly portrays the African American experience.  

Nelson brings history to life with his words and pictures. Seeing a grim-faced black Revolutionary War soldier contrasts sharply with a picture of George Washington seated on his horse, with a slave below him holding his hat.

Images of striving for freedom while remaining enslaved repeat throughout the book. Yet, in spite of the struggle, a positive message of pride in all  African Americans connects readers with the greatness of the United States.

Nelson’s pictures give new life to events seen in countless news photographs:

  • The March on Washington
  • Martin Luther King
  • Lunch counter sit ins
  • Montgomery bus boycott
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Migration from the south to factories in the north
  • Voting rights
  • Joe Louis
  • Tuskegee Airmen

Nelson concludes the book with a challenge to, and a statement about African Americans:

We have come a might long way, honey, and we still have a good ways to go, but that promise and the right to fight for it is worth every ounce of its weight in gold. It is our nation’s heart and soul. (page 99)

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