So many were shocked and devastated when they witnessed the unnecessary murder of an unarmed George Floyd in May 2020, at the hands of police. Watching the horrific scene play out on social media led to collective outrage about police brutality and a U.S. justice system that does not protect nor treat all the same way.
The world has been impacted in one way or another by the loss of George Floyd, and none more so than his family. Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, is a testament to his legacy and her poignant words in a viral video in June 2020, “my daddy changed the world,” perfectly captures his legacy.
Author Leah Henderson and Illustrator E.B. Lewis were inspired by Gianna’s words and over a telephone conversation, produced the concept for their new children’s picture book Daddy Speaks Love. Henderson and Lewis were deeply moved by Gianna’s words and wanted to create a series of images around them that would highlight the beauty of the father-child relationship. As they spoke about the impact of George Floyd’s murder, not only on the world, but most profoundly on his daughter, they recognized the weight and importance her words carried. This spurred Henderson to have conversations with her own father and other fathers who, daily, impact their children’s lives in big and small ways. The book soon became a love letter to that bond.
“When I was young, one of the first lessons I ever learned from my dad was that it was okay, and necessary to make mistakes, because that is how I would grow and learn,” Henderson says. “Throughout the book, I highlight truths my father has spoken to my brothers and me that have shaped who we have become. My hope for readers of this book is that they will recognize their own life experiences reflected on these pages, or that they will come to understand the importance of speaking up for others and the need to continuously demand fairness, equality, and love.”
The book also seeks to tear down the stereotype of absentee Black fathers and to highlight the vital role and influence dads have. “All too often, fathers and the father figures who step up and inhabit this role in a young person’s life are overlooked. Especially in communities of color,” she says. “On the page, I wanted to center Black and brown fathers’ love in all its forms in a young person’s life. While the book highlights a variety of dads, my own father was my example and guide for each and every word.”
To complement Henderson’s words, E.B. Lewis’s stunning artwork depicts fathers of a variety of races, ages, and backgrounds leading children through special moments in their lives. That includes the everyday stroll together in nature to marching together at a Black Lives Matters rally for change.
Daddy Speaks Love portrays many fathers and the many ways, from day one, that fathers give love. The heartwarming picture book is not only an opportunity to discuss what fatherly support and love looks and feels like with your children, but it is also an opportunity to highlight and explore what it truly means to be a global citizen, a compassionate human being, and a person unafraid to speak up and be heard.
Daddy Speaks Love is available now wherever books are sold.