Trailblazing Women Celebration: Gwendolyn Brooks

For kids (Ages 7-13)

June 4, 2020

We celebrated trailblazing women with a talk with Suzanne Slade (Author) and Cozbi Cabrera (Illustrator) about their book “Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks.” The conversation was moderator by PBS Chicago’s Tim Russell, VP of Community Engagement.

Trailblazing Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for her outstanding poetry. From Chicago, Gwendolyn wrote about “real life” from a young age.

Suzanne Slade (Author) and Cozbi Cabrera (Illustrator) teamed up in “Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks” (released in April 2020) to explore Gwendolyn’s amazing path and poetry, as well as the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression.

During this virtual engagement, we heard the read-aloud of the book, learned about the surprising 5+ year research process (primary source research) in a fun and relatable way, and had the opportunity to investigate the author/illustrator’s collaboration and inspiration in this fabulous children’s book about this iconic woman.


About the panelists

Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, including many about groundbreaking women, such as Dangerous Jane: The Life and Time of Jane Addams, Crusader for Peace, and A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon. Suzanne lives near the busy city of Chicago, and is a longtime admirer of Gwendolyn Brooks’s exquisite poetry.



Cozbi A. Cabrera is the illustrator of many beloved books for children, including her newest, Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, and her author-illustrated title, My Hair is a Garden. She is also well-known for her handmade cloth dolls. Cozbi lives just outside Chicago.



About the moderator

Timothy Russell currently serves as Vice President of Community Engagement of Chicago’s PBS station WTTW and classical radio station WFMT. He is responsible for shaping WTTW and WFMT’s vision and strategy with relevant influencers, nonprofits, foundations, and business partners, and ensuring that they align with the organization’s strategic plan to increase visibility in, and connection with, the community, focusing on the areas of Early Childhood Education, Access to the Arts, and Society and Culture.


Collaborating Partners