The Undefeated

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

Kwame Alexander writes in the afterword for this book that “…I wrote a poem because I wanted my daughters to know how we got to this historic moment [of Barack Obama becoming the first African American president of the United States], or as the famous Mahalia Jackson spiritual says, ‘You know my soul look back and wonder / How did I make it over.’” 

At the end of the book there is a list of historical figures and events featured in the book. Here are some resources to learn more about some of these people and events. Looking to learn more about a historical figure or event that we don’t include? Fill out a Surprise Bundle form (link to: and let us know what you are looking for and we’ll help you find resources. 

  • Go to: to learn more about Jesse Owens who won five gold medals in seven days at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Then go outside and run a race against a friend or family member or time how fast you can run.  
  • Read more about Jesse Owens through a Hoopla ebook (link to: or check out Who was Jesse Owens? by James Buckley Jr. 
  • View Romare Bearden’s art online and learn more about his work and life at The Romare Bearden Foundation:  Romare Bearden used collage in his art. Try one of the collage techniques here (link to: 
  • Romare Bearden lived in Pittsburgh for a few years as a child. The Carnegie Museum of Art shares how to talk about his collage, Pittsburgh Memories, with kids at: 
  • Check out this site (link to: or listen to this podcast (link to: and discuss how sculptor August Savage fought against racial inequality and inspired other African American artists. 
  • Learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement on TrueFlix access this resource for free with your library card 
  • Read Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney Check out this great book from the library. 
  • Read Wilma Rudolph: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman, by Kathleen Krull. (link to: Check out this great picture book from the library. Or watch the short biography of Wilma Ruldolph here (link to: ) to learn more about Wilma Rudolph.  
  • Did you know that when Michael Jordan was in the 10th grade he tried out for the Varsity team and didn’t make it? But, he kept working hard. If you have a basketball hoop at your house try making 5 baskets in a row. Can’t do it? Keep practicing! 
  • Read Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream, by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan. Check out this great book from the library (link to:
  • Read more about Muhammad Ali in this article from Sports Illustrated for Kids: 
  • Interested in learning more about Muhammad Ali when he was a kid? James Patterson and Kwame Alexander wrote a fictionalized account of how Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali in Becoming Muhammad Ali : a novel 
  • Sheryl Swoopes is the first female athlete with her own Nike shoe and the first player signed to the WNBA. Watch her biography in her own words: It takes a lot of practice and dedication to be as good as Sheryl Swoopes, do some practicing of your own by trying out these basketball drills (link to: 
  • Read Game changers: The story of Venus and Serena Williams on Libby/OverDrive (link to: or check out Sisters: Venus & Serena by Jeanette Winter from the library (link to:  
  • Bounce a tennis ball up and down on ground for one minute (either with a tennis racket or with your hand). Try bouncing the ball faster and then slower.  
  • Look at the items from the virtual exhibition of Ella at 100 by the National Museum of American History and find out why she is called “The First Lady of Song” (link to: Watch Ella Fitzgerald sing in the videos at the National Museum of American History (link to: 
  • Listen to the audiobook Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney on Libby. Ella is known for her scat singing. Learn how to sing scat with this video from Sesame Street (link to: 

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