Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African-Americans
Click to order via Amazon
by Roland Laird with Taneshia Nash
Laird, Illustrated by Elihu ’Adofo’ Bay, Foreword by
Paperback: 240 pages
Book Review by Kam Williams
One of the challenges of raising a child for African-American parents is that most history books are written from a Eurocentric perspective, and there isn't enough time during Black History Month to undo the damage inflicted upon impressionable young minds the rest of the year. And it is easy to underestimate the cumulative toll exacted by semester after semester of syllabus suggesting that Africans were uncivilized heathens and thus deserving of their lot first as slaves and later as second-class citizens.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn is an excellent alternative to that conventional claptrap. However, Zinn's politically-correct encyclopedia is almost 800 pages in length and thus not exactly easy reading. Another viable option is Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African-Americans by Roland and Taneshia Laird. Originally published by the couple a dozen years ago, the text has been updated to include recent developments, including the election of Barack Obama.
The book, which borrows its title from Maya Angelou’s most famous poem of the same name, covers a surprising amount of ground despite the copious illustrations. Warning, don't deceive yourself into thinking it's just for kids because of all the cartoons. To the contrary, it might actually be more for adults, given the subtlety of the humor and the sophistication of the salient points it endeavors to drive home.
Arranged in chronological order, the entries start with the
Jamestown settlement and winds its way to the present, cleverly
touching on everything from Nat Turner's slave revolt to the
Civil War and Emancipation to lynching and Jim Crow segregation
to the Civil Rights Movement, the Million Man March and the
Obama's ascendancy to the presidency. An engaging, moving and
informative means of unlearning and rectifying miseducating
wrongs while being thoroughly entertained and even occasionally
laughing out loud.