William Shakespeare once wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
While I’ve been a fan of Shakespeare for a long time I must disagree with this famous line from Romeo and Juliet.
Names are more than a label. They mean something.
Have you ever looked at someone and thought “they look just like their name”?
I realized this when I gave birth to my second daughter. I had her name all picked out. But the moment I saw her I knew her name would be something else. Something strong and powerful. Like she was destined to be.
Much like the name of the little boy in this book. And the name of a beloved President.
When I heard of this book and met the author, Jean E. Caldwell, I knew I was destined to tell their story.
Yusef is her grandson. She wrote the book in honor of him.
He was named after his grandfather. And carried his name proudly.
One day, a group of his friends told him they couldn’t play with him anymore. Their parents didn’t like his name.
Yusef didn’t feel alone though. Because he was watching someone else go through the same thing.
One morning he walked proudly into the room and announced “I want to dress like President Obama”.
His image of our president was sleeves rolled up, ready to jump in and help in any situation.
So he rolled up his sleeves and held his head high.
Barack and Yusef have both faced criticism because of their names. But they chose the high road. They didn’t let the words of others affect how they felt about their names.
Words have the ability to make or break us. Just like a name, they are powerful.
Speaking with the author was like having a conversation with myself.
We finished each other’s sentences. We didn’t have to second guess something we said.
We both have given strong names to our children. And supported their journey to embrace their moniker.
I often ask the person I’m interviewing so send me pictures of things that bring them joy.
Their pictures always fit the vibe I get from them. Jean represents peace, kindness and freedom. Just as her pictures show.
Yusef is now a teenager. He hasn’t met President Obama YET. But he will.
He comes from a strong, determined, talented family.
And if he went by any other name, he wouldn’t be the same person.
Jean Caldwell lives in Concord, NC where she’s writing even more children’s books.
Yusef and The President can be purchase Here