Tobe: An African-American Children's Book Ahead Of Its Time

Oct 14, 2014

Credit UNC Press


First published in 1939 by UNC Press, the picture book Tobe was a rare children's story featuring an African-American protagonist.

The book follows a boy who works hard on his family farm. The story uses the real photos of people who lived in an African-American township just outside of Greensboro called Goshen.

The book gave a historical glimpse into African-American communities in North Carolina, but left open questions about what happened to these families in the decades to come.

Host Frank Stasio talks with UNC-Greensboro history professor Benjamin Filene who uncovered the stories behind the subjects of Tobe. He also speaks with Phyllis Powell, a woman whose family lived in Goshen.

This photo of 'Tobe' is featured early on in the book, and shows Charles Gardner, who attempted to cut his own hair before the photographer arrived
Credit UNC Press