Comics to Help Figure Out How We Got Here

By | Monday, June 08, 2020 Leave a Comment
Golden Legacy: Frederick DouglassI've told the story before how the Golden Legacy issues focusing on Frederick Douglass, which I coincidentally read just as we were covering that time period in social studies class at school, led me to realize that we were being lied to in our education. I didn't immediately jump up and think, "Damn, we're just being spoon-fed white supremacist propaganda!" but I did come to understand that what we were getting in history classes was inaccurate at best. After leaving school, I've had to spend an inordinate amount of time unlearning most everything I was taught, and I've spent the past three decades working to learn what actually happened in history. I'm continually amazed at just how much I was flatly lied to about, and I eventually came to realize that the reason for much of that was to deliberately downplay the impact non-white people had in the creation of... well, everything. If their words and deeds are dismissed as insignificant to the history books, it's not hard to see why people might come to the conclusion that they're inherently inferior. After all, they'd be in the history books if they did anything important, right?

While I'm happy to pick up any medium in order to learn something correctly, I am partial to comics. They are my preferred medium in general, but since it was a comic that allowed me to realize how much I was being lied to in the first place, I have an affinity to looking to them for true histories. To that end, I thought I would collect here a variety of books that you might use to educate yourself about the history leading up to where we are today. This is hardly intended to be an exhaustive list, and I'll be focusing on books (as opposed to periodicals) as they'll probably be a little easier to find.

These are presented roughly in order of the stories and events they depict...
Inhuman Traffick: The International Struggle against the Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Graphic History
By Rafe Blaufarb and Liz Clarke

Nat Turner
By Kyle Baker

The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave's Journey from Bondage to Freedom
By David F. Walker, Damon Smyth, and Marissa Louise

Tales of the Talented Tenth: Bass Reeves
By Joel Christian Gill

Cleburne: A Graphic Novel
By Justin Murphy

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
By Joel Christian Gill

Strange Fruit, Volume 2: More Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
By Joel Christian Gill

The Buffalo Soldiers and the American West
By Jason Glaser, Charles Barnett III, and Tod G. Smith

Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story
by Peter Bagge

Golden Legacy
By various

The Original Johnson: Book One, Book Two
By Trevor Von Eeden

Tales of the Talented Tenth: Bessie Stringfield
By Joel Christian Gill

I am Jackie Robinson
By Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

King: The Special Edition
By Ho Che Anderson

I am Rosa Parks
By Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

The Silence of our Friends
By Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell

James Brown: Black and Proud
By Xavier Fauthoux

Muhammad Ali
By Nicole Seguin-Morris, Sybille Titeux de la Croix, and Amazing Ameziane
This list is hardly comprehensive, as I said. But these are all good, non-fiction comics that help to fill in the huge gaps left by the American education system that might help to explain why we're where we are today. Reading all these by themselves won't provide all the answers, but they'll help you on your way to understanding.
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