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‘The Fierce 44,’ a new children’s book by The Undefeated, is now on sale

A collection of portraits of black Americans who shook up the world, this is our second book for young readers


The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World, a new book for young readers by the staff of The Undefeated, is now on sale.

It is adapted from an online project that identified 44 pathbreaking African Americans. The number 44 was selected to acknowledge the achievement of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States.

The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is aimed at readers 10 and older. It features short biographies and color portraits by illustrator Robert Ball. The book also includes a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., a professor of African American history at Harvard University and host of the PBS show Finding Your Roots.

The people recognized in The Fierce 44 range from household names such as tennis great Serena Williams and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman to lesser-known but highly deserving figures such as newspaper publisher Robert Abbott and surgeon Charles Drew. As Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief of The Undefeated, writes in a preface to the book, “This is not a list of The Greatest African-Americans of All Time or The Most Influential Blacks in History. Or even The Dopest Brothers and Sisters Who Matter Most This Week. It is a list — fervently debated among our staff, chiseled and refined — of 44 blacks who shook up the world or at least their corner of it.

“We recognize that this is not a complete list of jaw-dropping black achievers,” he continued. “We know that such a list would never run out of names.”

The book is available in stores for $17.99, and can also be ordered online at these sites: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. A special edition of the book, which includes an interactive poster, can be purchased at Costco for a list price of $18.99. A digital audiobook is also available now. A CD version of the audiobook will be available in late January.

The Fierce 44 is the second children’s book adapted from material originally published on The Undefeated. The first book, titled The Undefeated, is a poem by Newbery Award-winning writer Kwame Alexander with illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Alexander first created his poem and performed it for a video on The Undefeated.