“Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in 1831, and that it was a significant event…Who is this man who is so important enough to be mentioned in all the history books, yet is never spoken at length?” (Baker 6) This statement made me reflect on my school days. In school, I do not remember learning much about Nat Turner or, for that matter, any other black Americans until I had Mr. Andre Holmes’ 7th grade Social Studies class. He is the reason that my classmates and I learned about black history. We loved going to class his class every day. He made us want to know more about ourselves as young African Americans. His class had such a profound affect on me that I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I was going to attend an historically Black College and University (HBCU).
This graphic novel tells the story of Nat Turner in a compelling way. The most unique feature is the lack of dialogue. In reading this story, I had to look carefully at the illustrations to comprehend the story. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Barker’s art work is a thousand words multiplied by infinity. These illustrations allow readers to understand the evils of slavery. He depicts this inhumane institution so well that readers can feel the intensity. If you want to learn about a part of history that is rarely discussed, then this graphic novel is for you.
Superman. Aquaman. Batman. Black Lightning. You may have heard of these superheroes, but have you ever heard of Incognegro? Like these superheroes, Incognegro fights for truth. His mission is for justice to prevail and racial inequality to cease. However, out of all these heroes, Incognegro has much in common with Superman.
By day, Superman is Clark Kent; Incognegro is Zane Pinchback. Clark Kent works for the Daily Planet as a reporter; Zane Pinchback is a reporter for the New Holland Herald. Just as Superman has special powers, so does Incognegro. However, Incognegro’s power allows him to report gruesome details about the lynchings of African Americans, while being black. Due to his skin complexion, he has the ability to “pass” as a white man. Therefore, without getting caught, he is able to attend lynchings throughout the South. However, there have been times in which his identity has been revealed, but he has managed to escape the lynchers because he knows that if he is captured, then his consequences will be extremely dire.
Growing weary of reporting about lynchings, Zane wants a new occupation, something totally different. He wants to write about the Harlem Renaissance as Zane Pinchback. However, his supervisor has other plans. He wants Zane to travel to Tupelo, Mississippi to complete one last mission. There are only two problems. First, he will be unknowingly reporting about the lynching of his brother, Alonzo Pinchback. Second, his best friend, Carl, decides to travel to Tupelo because he wants to become the new Incognegro. He believes that on-the-job training is the best type of training, but in this case, is it? Will Incognegro be able to rescue Alonzo in time? Is Carl making a wise decision? Read this exciting graphic novel and pay attention to Warren Pleece’s illustrations because they truly capture every word on each page. I promise that you will not be disappointed.
Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger
I placed this book on hold at my local library and could not wait to receive it. When I finally did receive it, I immediately began reading it. In Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger focus on the institution of slavery but from the perspective of the slave. This novel depicts the horrors that slaves regularly endured.
Although this a good book, I am having an extremely difficult time reading it because the details are GRAPHIC. One example about a pregnant slave is absolutely horrendous. Franklin and Schweninger write, “One overseer admitted that he tied a female slave’s hands, put her head down a steep hill, placed a log under her belly and administered several hundred lashes. He ‘whipped her so brutally’ that the woman, who was pregnant, miscarried and ‘was Seriously injured and disabled.'”
To me, this disregard for human life is a disgrace on every level, and after reading about this incident, I just put down the book and began reading some lighter novels while still trying to read Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation. It finally got to the point that I made the decision to postpone reading this novel for now. However, my intent is to finish reading this book, just not right now.
1875. Historian. Pioneer. Lack of history represented in history books. One week. Journal of Negro History. Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Second week of February. 1976. Transitioned into Black History Month.
These words relate to one man who made African American history extremely important, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. It is February 7, 2019, and Black History Month celebrations are under way. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) sponsors the National African American Read-In, and the International Literacy Association (ILA) endorses this event. “The goal is to document readers making the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities” (“Take Part in the African American Read-In”).
How I am Celebrating Black History Month In honor of Black History Month, I am reading the following novels:
The Souls of Black Folks – W. E. B. DuBois
Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot in 1921 – Scott Ellsworth: currently reading
In Search of the Promised Land: A Slave Family in the Old South – John Hope Franklin
Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, 1790-1860 – John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger
Strength to Love – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I do not know if I will finish reading these books by February 28, 2019, but I do know that I will read them. Lastly, I thank Dr. Woodson for creating National Negro Week, which is now being recognized for a month, because he sought to educate the minds of people about African Americans’ contributions in America. His legacy continues https://www.berea.edu/cgwc/carter-godwin-woodson
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