February is African American History Month so as the month comes to a close, it is fitting that our featured book today is “What Color is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, Illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford
Last week, I had the privilege of meeting one of the most accomplished basketball players in U.S. History – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I was quite excited when I found out he was making an appearance at a Tustin Middle School to promote his first children’s book. So that day, during my lunch break from work, I asked my colleague Kyle, an avid sports fan, to accompany me and be my cameraman. To say that Kareem is intimidating is an understatement – it is not just his imposing 7’2″ height or his list of many accomplishments (beyond basketball) but mostly, it was due to the seriousness in his demeanor. As Fermin, the OC Register reporter and I asked our questions, he answered each question earnestly like an elder statesman. Or a history professor actually, which he revealed, he might’ve turned out to be if he didn’t pursue a career in professional basketball. His co-author Raymond Obstfeld was also on hand for the interview.
The book “What Color is My World?” is an interesting resource offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring feisty twins. It is so creatively packaged and full of “Did You Know” type facts to keep any child (and adult) interested. Like did you know that James West’s technology is in the microphone of your cell phone? Or that Fred Jones invented the refrigerated truck that makes supermarkets possible? Or that George Crum invented the potato chip?
For Kareem, his reason for writing the book is clear: to provide a good way to make kids aware of how many objects in their daily lives were invented by African Americans, and to a greater extent, to provide African American and minority children to be inspired by engineers and scientists and to think outside of the box. Kareem laments the fact that for many kids, the only options they think they have are either entertainment or sports “They want to be either Lebron James or Jay-Z.”
Thank you so much to Kyle of the Smile Generation for taking the video!