Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome appear at the Kids Area (parking lot next to Bookmarks) for Bookmarks on Saturday from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. and for storytime at Footnote from 3:30 to 4 p.m. The North Carolina A&T State University Cold Steel Drumline performs on the Lee Wrangler Stage for the North Carolina Folk Festival on Friday from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m.

Black excellence demands black cultural tradition. The constant downgrading and erasure of black achievement and black brilliance makes necessary a ritualized custom of celebration.

Poets, political leaders, musicians and athletes, mostly but not exclusively black, populate the children’s books of Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome, a wife-and-husband team who are respectively writer and illustrator. Children’s books have a particularly important role to play in allowing black children to see that they, too, can reach extraordinary heights of achievement. 

Lesa Cline-Ransome has said that she’s attracted to characters who must overcome adversity to achieve greatness.

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome, a wife-and-husband team who are respectively writer and illustrator. (courtesy photo)

“In our book Satchel Paige, I like demonstrating for kids that you don’t always have to walk a straight path,” Lesa Cline-Ransome said during a talk with her husband at the 2013 National Book Festival. “Sometimes your life takes many different diversions, but you could still wind up in a very great place. You can still go on to do amazing things. In our book Satchel Paige, he spent time in a reform school. But it prepared him for the Negro Leagues. And Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, he was the object of hostile racism, but it motivated him in a way that major circumstances may not have.”

Like a great children’s book author team, the excellence of a renowned marching band at a historically black university is a matter of repeat performance. It would be hard to imagine a more tangible expression of black pride than a university marching band. While much of the academic and research prowess at an institution like NC A&T University goes unseen by the larger community — this is a university with an engineering program that produced astronaut Ronald McNair — the marching band functions as a cultural ambassador. 

And this is a great marching band, renowned for a legendary rivalry with Florida A&M going back to the 1950s, and multiple appearances in the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City since the 1970s.

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