“Choosing to act in the face of deadly assaults is not simply an act of will, as Najya Williams reminds us throughout this book [Cotton]. It requires a sense of community and affirmation, along with a deep grounding in history. With lines like “I imagine this is how my slave ancestors felt/Silenced/Rid of their tongue/Not because they didn’t know how to fight/They felt trapped between saving their future children/ And keeping the living ones safe”– Williams weaves together past, present and future in a powerful call to celebrate and fight for the power and beauty of Black lives in America.”

Dr. Phyllis Mentzell Ryder, Associate Professor of Writing, Director of Writing Center, The George Washington University