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Kadir was born in 1974 in Washington, D.C. His mother, Emily-Diane Gunter, is a motivational speaker and author. He began drawing at age 3 claiming that, “It’s part of my DNA”. At age 11, he spent a summer with his Uncle who is an artist and an art teacher. He taught him about perspective, different mediums, and color mixing. This was the first time that he worked with watercolor. At age 16, he started using oils with his Uncle and continues using these today.

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“The first semester had just finished and we were getting ready to start the next semester. I was on the basketball team and I really wasn't enjoying architecture. I kind of felt that I had to do it. I'd also heard my whole life that artists, when they go to an art school, their professors will try to impose their styles on their students and make the students clones of themselves. I really didn't want to do that. I wanted to be an individual. So that's one of the other reasons I didn't major in art or illustration.

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But then, after seeing a friend of mine, Joe Davis, bring his artwork into practice one day; I was blown away by how great it was and how unique it was to him. And I asked him, "They let you do this type of artwork for your assignments?" And he said, not only that, they help you do what you do better. They want you to be an individual. After seeing that, it inspired me to really follow my heart and do the art that I wanted to do. Because at heart, I wasn't an architect — I was a painter. So I decided, even if I had to starve I would become an artist and do what I really love to do. And the next day I changed my major to illustration and didn't look back” . Interview from Reading Rockets

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Immediately after graduation, he was commissioned as an artist and illustrator for many companies that include; Sports Illustrated, Dreamworks , Nike, Coca-Cola, and Major League Baseball. His work has been exhibited at galleries and museums in Los Angeles, New York, and England. He is married and has two daughters. Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 The 40th Coretta Scott King Award Ceremony. Shadra Strickland won the illustrator award for Bird and Kadir Nelson was the author winner and illustrator honoree for We Are The Ship .

Other Awards & Honors:

Other Awards & Honors Kadir received a Nomination for the NAACP Image Award for Ellington Was N ot A S treet in 2005. He was also honored by received the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books, 2011 United States for A Nation’s Hope.

Collaborative Books Illustrated by Kadir:

Collaborative Books Illustrated by Kadir Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee Just the Two of Us by Will Smith

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For much of his career he has been engaged in the pursuit of truth-about himself, his family, and those whose histories bear similarities to his own. The African American story was one that most resonated with him and became his primary focus . For most Americans, this piece of history has often sat in the shadows left to be discovered only by those whose curiosity would lead them to search deeper, b eyond the generic survey of history we are generally fed in our classrooms.

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He knew the American and African American stories only as well as most Americans, and has both African and European blood in his veins. His vision became crystal-clear during a visit to the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC in 2008. The numerous paintings he saw were created to tell the story of how America was founded. As striking as these paintings were there was no representation of African Americans.

The Realistic Illustrator:

The Realistic Illustrator

Henry’s Freedom Box:

Henry’s Freedom Box Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday -- his first day of freedom . http :// /services/player/bcpid1543302482?bctid=5705791001

We Are The Ship:

We Are The Ship “We are the ship; all else the sea.”—Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century.  But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers, listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences.  But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings—breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game.

Coretta Scott:

Coretta Scott Walking many miles to school in the dusty road, young Coretta Scott knew the unfairness of life in the segregated south. A yearning for equality began to grow. Together with Martin Luther King, Jr., she gave birth to a vision of change through non-violent protest. It was the beginning of a journey—with dreams of freedom for all. http:// /2011/02/19/black-history-month-continues-with-coretta-scott-a-picture-book-featuring-the-poetry-of-ntozake-shange-and-oil-paintings-of-kadir-nelson/

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The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs. Heart and Soul

I Have A Dream:

I Have A Dream From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing " I Have A Dream " speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.” On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation's history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation's past. http:// / watch?v =HGihYq1Z4fo

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References Nelson, K. (2012). CSK author award acceptance. The Horn Book Magazine, 88(4), 69-73. Retrieved from http :// " Kadir Nelson (1974(?)-)." Something about the Author . Vol. 213. Detroit: Gale, 2010. 120-126. Something About The Author Online . Gale. CIC Penn State University. 27 October 2012 http :// Preschool Plan- . (2010). Martin luther king jr. day theme for your preschool classroom . Retrieved from http :// king.html Martin luther king, jr . & freedom fighters . (2006). Retrieved from / LESSON_PLANS_ConceptBased /MartinLutherKingDay2006/ MLKJR.ppt Bea 2012 - kadir nelson - children's book & author breakfast [Web]. (2012). Retrieved from http:/ / /watch?v= HGihYq1Z4fo Carroll, C. (2012). Booknote educators guide/ i have a dream . Retrieved from / teachers / wp -content/uploads/2012/10/ IHaveADream_Poster_EG_SingPgs.pdf Video watch a trailer for "heart and soul" . (n.d.). Retrieved from / mWZJ8AIFIDBXQ /ref= ent_fb_link Suela , F. (2011, February 19). Black history month continues with coretta scott : A picture book featuring the poetry of ntozake shange and oil paintings of kadir nelson . Retrieved from http:/ / /2011/02/19/black-history-month-continues-with-coretta-scott-a - picture -book-featuring-the-poetry-of-ntozake-shange-and-oil-paintings-of-kadir-nelson/ 25 picture books with curricular connection-book 5 .(2012) Retrieved from http:/ / /2012/08/10/25-picture-books-with-curricular-connection-book-5/ Kadir nelson meet - the -author program . (2012). Retrieved from / author_collection.cgi ?id =66&a=1 Kids' Wings. (2009). We are the ship the story of negro league baseball . Retrieved from / 2009 -we-are-the-ship.html Henry’s freedom box: A true story from the underground railroad . (2012). Retrieved from http:/ / /services/player/bcpid1543302482?bctid=5705791001 Henry’s freedom box . (2007, June 20). Retrieved from http:http :// /Books/ BookView.php ? pag =3&bookID=00000590// /services/ player Reading Rockets. (2008). Transcript from an interview with kadir nelson . Retrieved from / interviews /nelson/transcript/ All images from

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