Tom Feelings, born on May 19, 1933, was a native of Brooklyn, NY. He attended the School of Visual Arts for two years before joining the Air Force, working as a staff artist. He then worked as a freelance artist, published in Look magazine, traveled to Ghana to work for the African Review, and returned to the U.S. in 1966 to concentrate on illustrating books with African and African-American themes.
He created the comic strip “Tommy Traveler in the World of Negro History” in 1958 for New York Age, a newspaper based in Harlem. He collaborated with talented black writers such as Julius Lester, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Grimes, and Maya Angelou.
In his life and work he tried to portray the reality of life for African Americans while depicting the beauty and warmth of black culture. Feelings won numerous awards for his work. Moja Means One, a Swahili counting book, and Jambo Means Hello, a Swahili alphabet book, were chosen as Caldecott Honor Books in 1972 and 1974. Something On My Mind won the Coretta Scott King Award in 1978. Feelings referred to himself as a storyteller in picture form.
Sadly, Mr. Feelings died August 25, 2003 at the age of 70.