Press Release: Street Co-Naming on Monroe Street in Brooklyn, NY
Celebrating John Steptoe Award Winning Children’s Book Author and Illustrator
On Saturday, August 27th, 2016 at 11:30am join the John Lewis Steptoe Estate, Family and Friends as they celebrate the Street Co-Naming of John Lewis Steptoe, an African-American Children’s Book Author and Illustrator, on his childhood block Monroe Street between Ralph and Howard Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn.
For the past three years I have worked passionately for this day to come! The commemoration of the life and legacy of my father, John Lewis Steptoe. There will be a celebration for the John Lewis Steptoe Street Co-Naming and the forthcoming Nationwide Tour of the play Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. I am inviting several children’s authors and illustrators to read John Lewis Steptoe’s Books. Council Member Darlene Mealy will be in attendance along with other elected officials. Invited Spoken Word artists, musical performers, storytellers, and much more!
Who is John Lewis Steptoe?
John Lewis Steptoe, creator of award-winning children’s books, was born in Brooklyn NY on September 14, 1950. Raised on Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. John Lewis Steptoe began drawing as a young child and received his formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan.
In 1969, at the age of 18, his first book ‘Stevie’, a story based on his experiences growing up at 840 Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant., received national attention when it was published in it’s entirety in Life magazine. It was hailed as “a new kind of book for black children.” John Lewis Steptoe, began work on Stevie at the age of 16.
In his 20-year career, John Lewis Steptoe illustrated 16 picture books, ten of which he also wrote. He received honors and accolades including the American Library Association’s Caldecott Honor for children’s book illustration for: The Story of Jumping Mouse in 1985 and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters in 1988, He also received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, for Mother Crocodile (text by Rosa Guy) in 1982, and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters in 1988.
While all of John Steptoe’s work deals with aspects of the African diaspora experience, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters an African Cinderella story was acknowledged by reviewers and critics as a breakthrough. While accepting the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration he said, “I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from.”
Since his death there has been an exhibit of this artwork at the Transit Museum, his name has been placed in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Celebrity Path, Public School 181 has been named the John Lewis Steptoe School of the 21 Century, His named is etched in glass at the African American Heritage Center at the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, his artwork hangs in the Raymond Bush playground in Bedford Stuyvesant, ‘Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters’ has been adapted as a play traveling nationwide and was chosen by the children’s librarians at the New York Public Library as one of the ‘100 Great Children’s Books/100 Years’ He was an inspirational artist, a visionary who highlighted the best of Bedford-Stuyvesant/ African American culture with pride.
Join the 41st District of the New York City Council Leader Darleen Mealy along with other elected officials and community members in remembering and honoring John Lewis Steptoe.
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