Jalani loved to play. Although his mother warned him not to wander alone, Jalani spent hours in the African jungle playing with his imaginary friends. One day, a strange man came upon him while he was at play and carried him away from the jungle and his friends. The man placed chains and locks on his little wrists and ankles and forced Jalani into a small box, locking the lid. When he was finally released from the awful box, Jalani did not recognize his surroundings. They were very different from his African homeland. In this new place Jalani was forced to work all day in the scorching sun for very little food and no pay. Jalani would never play again.
To commemorate February as Black History Month, the Museum of South Texas History’s Sunday Speaker Series presents Dr. Lorenzo Pace in an interpretive performance of his children’s book, Jalani and the Lock. The program will take place Sunday, Febr 1, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Jalani and the Lock is a children’s book based on the capture and enslavement of Pace’s great-grandfather, Steve Pace. Steve, like Jalani,, was kidnapped in Africa and brought to America locked in a box. When Steve was finally freed from slavery, he kept the lock and key used to confine him on that terrifying journey. The lock has been passed from one generation to the next as a reminder of the family’s African roots. Pace currently has possession of the lock and will bring it with him for the program.
Beautifully written and illustrated by Pace, Jalani and the Lock was named “One of the Best Children’s Books of 2001” by the Los Angeles Times and was the recipient of the Skipping Stone Honor Award. The book was recently made into an animated musical and performed in Amsterdam. It is presently touring in South America. Pace will perform an interpretation of Jalani and the Lock using live African music and exciting visual effects!
Dr. Lorenzo Pace was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He received his BFA and MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and his doctorate in art education and administration from Illinois State University. Pace skyrocketed to national attention in 2002, when he was commissioned to build a sculpture in honor of the over 400 slaves found buried at New York City’s Foley Square. The result is a 300-ton granite sculpture named Triumph of the Human Spirit. Pace is currently a visiting professor at UTPA.
Jalani and the Lock will be available for purchase at the Museum Store, with a special discount for FRIENDS of MOSTH. For more information, call 956-383-6911 or visit www.mosthistory.org. The Museum of South Texas History is located on the Courthouse Square in downtown Edinburg.