Still I Rise by Roland LairdBy Phyllis Rhodes • Jan 21st, 2009 • Category: Book Review 2009 • Email This Post • Print This Post
Still I Rise is a graphical novel (aka “comic strip” style) structured around the history of America and the complex, interwoven African American contributions and sacrifices to its success and greatness. Two unnamed characters remain prominent serving as narrators providing supplemental commentaries setting the stage of the eras’ social and political climates enhancing the history lessons within the pages. Opening in pre-Colonial times, it traces the events and issues surrounding indentured servitude, greed, and racism that eventually lead to legalized and institutionalized slavery of Africans. It celebrates and recognizes countless unsung and infamous heroes and leaders (of all races) as it progresses through four hundred years. The courage of African Americans is not lost when the book covers America’s battles with the English, Spanish, and French, and eventually itself, nor does it spare the ugliness of racism, and the struggle endured during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. At its core, it is a book that chronicles survival, faith, hope, and perseverance against insurmountable odds.
The collection is one that should be required reading for students (the graphics would appeal to even the youngest and/o r attention-challenged readers). I also highly recommend it for more “seasoned” readers as well because of its unique depiction of history. Even the forward by Charles Johnson remains in context and addresses the challenges black illustrators faced in the early 20th century. As a history lover, I loved learning “new” bits of info (the actual names of ingenious people and the rational behind some historical and political decisions) and revisiting all that I knew. I plan to purchase copies for my nephew and niece as it is a tool to initiate those much needed conversations.
Reviewed by Phyllis
January 20, 2009
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Phyllis Rhodes is a systems engineer with a major defense contractor and adjunct professor at two local universities in Orlando, Florida. A lifelong bibliophile, she founded the Nubian Circle Book Club in 2001 and is a freelance book reviewer for the Orlando Sentinel, APOOO Exchange Team, and Amazon.com. As a consummate fan of the arts, she supports local and national theatre, literary events, and Afrocentric festivals, exhibits, and historical tributes. When not traveling, teaching, or reading, she researches her family history and applies her talents across a host of professional organizations chartered to sustain and uplift the African American community
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