Biddy Mason Speaks Up

Biddy Mason Speaks Up
Hardcover, 7 x 9, full-color illustrations and photographs throughout, for ages 10 and up, 112 pages.
ISBN: 978159714403.

By Arisa White , Laura Atkins , Laura Freeman

Winner of the Nautilus Book Award

Winner of the 2021 FOCAL Award

Silver Award Winner, 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards

Winner of the Book Award for Young People’s Literature, 2020 Maine Literary Awards

Building on the brilliance of Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, the newest installment in the Fighting for Justice series introduces young readers to another real-life champion for civil rights: Bridget “Biddy” Mason, an African American philanthropist, healer, and midwife who was born into slavery. When Biddy arrived in California, where slavery was technically illegal, she was kept captive by her owners and forced to work without pay. But when Biddy learned that she was going to be taken to a slave state, she launched a plan to win her freedom. She refused to be defined by her enslavement, and coauthors Arisa White and Laura Atkins devote much of their narrative to Biddy Mason’s later life as a business and civic leader in the fledgling city of Los Angeles.

Biddy Mason Speaks Up is an age-appropriate yet unflinching examination of slavery, racism, and community healing in the United States. Each chapter begins with lyrical verse and full-color illustrations that draw readers into the narrative, and is followed by visually engaging sections filled with keyword definitions, historical context, timelines, and primary sources. Throughout the book, the authors pose questions to the reader, such as “How do you see power at work in your community?”, making Biddy Mason’s story all the more relatable to the present day.



“Highly recommended.” Midwest Book Review
“Combines moving poetry with informational sections in each chapter along with a full-page illustration of a key scene in that chapter.... Biddy Mason's [story] is one with roots in California and significance everywhere.” The Pirate Tree
“A shining achievement.” Multiculturalism Rocks!
“A work that possesses undertones of inspiration that finally bloom into empowerment and freedom, Biddy Mason Speaks Up is a great read for all ages.” China Myers, Duende Literary
“This is as impressive a project as you will ever see to potentize history.” Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews
“Moving and enlightening.” Marah Gubar, Public Books
“Wonderful.” Candace Cooper, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“A first purchase for biography, history, and general nonfiction collections alike.” School Library Journal, starred review
“Difficult but necessary, inclusive and respectful, this book does a beautiful job of telling truths about our history and how we construct it.” Kirkus, starred review
“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, the life of Biddy Mason inspires us to continue to resist racial injustice. Biddy’s triumph is a north star for all of us who believe in justice, fairness, equality, and freedom.” Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
+ Show all reviews

About the Authors

Arisa White

Arisa White

Arisa White is a Cave Canem graduate poet and her work has been nominated for the NAACP Image Awards, California Book Awards, and Wheatley Book Awards. Her recent poetry collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened was a nominee for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates cultural events and artistic collaborations that center narratives of queer and trans people of color. She serves on the board of directors for Nomadic Press and is an assistant professor at Colby College. Visit her website at

Laura Atkins

Laura Atkins

Laura Atkins is an author, teacher, and independent children’s book editor with over twenty years of editorial experience. She worked at Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, and Lee and Low Books, helping to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others. She taught creative writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) in London, where she also received her M.A. in children’s literature, and she completed her M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016. In addition to cowriting Fred Korematsu Speaks UpLaura is the author of the lighthearted picture book Sled Dog Dachshund (Minted Prose Press). Passionate about diversity and equity in children’s books, Laura is based in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her daughter. Find out more at

Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree. Her work on Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, was recognized with an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children, reached the New York Times Best Seller list and was listed as one of “Ten Books All Georgians Should Read”. Her art has been honored at the Society of Illustrators in NYC and in the Annuals for Communication Arts and American Illustration.

She has illustrated over thirty children’s books. In addition to illustrating books, Laura’s art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards. And her editorial images are frequently seen in the NY Times and other periodicals.

She is a native New Yorker residing in Atlanta with her husband, two sons, two cats and a fish. Visit her website,

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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