Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Still I Rise By Roland Laird with Taneshia Nash Laird, Illustrated by Elihu “Adofo” Bey

From colonial day slavery to the Obama campaign, Still I Rise is the intertwined history of the United States and the African American struggle towards freedom and equality in graphic novel format.  The book is narrated by two caricatures which lend some humor to what otherwise would be a very dry and long history lesson.  One strategic decision that separates this text from others on the same subject is the authors' inclusion of the huge events like the abolishment of slavery without dwelling on them.  Instead, the novel brings attention to lesser known events that contributed to the fight for African American equality. The book focuses on back deals and individuals who were working behind the scenes, kind of the unsung heroes of African American history in the United States.  Unfortunately, once the book gets into the Civil Rights Movement it speeds up, trying to squeeze forty plus years of history into fifty pages which may leave the reader with a desire to know more about those years.  Then again, that seems to be the perfect place where teachers can jump in and help students fill in the gaps.  

Still I Rise has a large quantity of text for a graphic novel and its panels and text bubbles are not so easy to follow.  This makes it a bit less accessible for students without any experience reading graphic novels. Students looking to learn more about the history of slavery in the United States, or who enjoyed The Cartoon History of the United States would likely enjoy this book.--Claudio Leon

Laird, Roland, and Laird, Taneshia Nash. Still I Rise. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1997. Print

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