Illustrated by Nate Powell
On the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration to his first term as president, Congressman John Lewis readies himself in his office in Washington D.C. A lady with two kids stops by the office, obviously not expecting the Congressman to be there, but they are delighted to find him and ask questions about his life and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. This launches Lewis down memory lane as he recounts his childhood from growing up on a farm, raising chickens, to going to school and getting involved in sit ins at local department store lunch counters. The work isn't done with those demonstrations, as later volumes promise to hold other activism and demonstrations Lewis took part in and led.
This collection of graphic essays presents Nate Powell as he tackles with the election of 2016, difficult conversations he has with his young daughter on the power of protest and symbols (especially those used by white supremacists), and the effect of the Global Pandemic on his family and his mental state. In early chapters, Powell recounts telling his children about then-candidate Trump (although not specifically named until the end of the book). As white supremacy becomes a more visible component of American society, Powell reflects on writing March with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and trying to reconcile those protest movements with the marches by Neo Nazis through his city and state. In the last chapter, Powell has a call-to-arms where he challenges others not to passively agree with others who are protesting, but to do some of it for yourself as well.
Illustrated by Tim Foley
Dan Rather's original prose book, What Unites Us, is a collection of essays, musings and observations with lots of autobiographical details, about American history and political climate. This graphic novel adapts many of the essays from the prose version. The historical events are not told in any sort of chronological order. Instead, Rather uses his perspective on key historical moments to illustrate bigger ideologies; things like "courage", or "patriotism." Rather attempts to explain what is special about America, what brings us together as a nation, but also what has worked to separate us, especially partisan bickering and political turmoil.
Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence is an autobiographical memoir of Joel’s childhood. As a small boy, he is forced to learn how to fight in order to protect himself from kids at school and in his neighborhood. He makes the assertion that children are sponges so can only absorb so much violence and negativity before it explodes out of them, often violently as well. As he grows, Joel learns to control HIS outbursts and tries to get away from the constant threat of violence, but he is frequently the target of other people’s anger. As he becomes a teenager, he becomes a target for other males well don’t like how popular he is with the ladies, and he also gets on the wrong side of drug dealers.
Illustrated by Michael Sloan
In the Fall of 2016, the Aldabaan family receives word that they have been approved to travel from Jordan to the United States. Brothers Ibrahim and Issa are able to emigrate with their families, but they are leaving behind their mother and another brother and family. This is after they have all fled war-torn Syria. The eldest son, Naji, can't wait for the family to start their new lives in the United States, but the political climate has Ibrahim and his wife, Adeebah, unsure of what they're going in to. Once in Connecticut, they receive help from IRIS, a refugee resettlement agency, and told that they need to become self-sufficient within four months. The whole family adjusts to oddities of America, such as basements and Life Alert. Naji and his sister, Amal, start school and are treated as outcasts. The family constantly wonders if they've really left behind the worse life.
Illustrated by Sonia Paoloni and Thibault Balahy
Delve into the formation of the first all American Indian Rock Band: Redbone, as told from Pat Vegas’ perspective. Before they were a full band, Lolly and Pat Vegas played clubs in LA and jammed with some of the greats - Jimmy Hendrix before he was Jimi, Sonny and Cher, and more. They start to collect other talented musicians who were also passing as Hispanic Americans, and formed a band that then went on to proudly use elements of Native American instruments and musicality in their songs and display their Native American heritage. While they weren't always a commercial success, and their ancestry brought them discrimination and missed gigs, the members of Redbone felt it was necessary to continue their musical careers as noble Native Americans who would not bend to the pressure of their record label or the music industry.
Adrien Gombeaud & Améziane, illustrators
This historical graphic novel begins an explanation for the student protests beginning April 15th, 1989 and concluding in the Tiananmen Massacre on June 5th, 1989. Most people know of this event from the famous photo, Tank Man (pictured below). What isn't largely talked about is the months before this photo where students camped out in Tiananmen Square and inspired protests across China. Students and professors participated in Hunger Strikes against the Chinese government and demonstrated in the hopes that the country would move away from dictatorships and into democracy. The People's Liberation Army was called in to clear the square, but citizens of Beijing impeded their progress and protected the students. Wealthy businessmen became involved as financial backers of the protest. Some of these protests were captured by the Worlds' Press reports during a state visit from Mikhail Gorbachev, but there still exists a lack of certainty about those involved, number of deaths from the Massacre, and much more.
This book has only been out for a week and DANG has it taken the world by storm. Highly reviewed from several publishers, so I won't gush too much, but this is such a powerful story and so necessary. I know publication dates are decided well in advance, but this book hit the shelves just as America was talking about our border camps being another incarnation of the Japanese internment camps. PERFECT TIMING!
I've been reading Manga and comicbooks for years. Now, it's time to share my knowledge with you.
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