Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

S. & S. Jun. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781982115180. $29.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
DEBUT Suspecting that records of slave revolts glossed over women instigators, attorney-cum-historian Hall began researching the evidence, culminating in this graphic novel. Indeed, buried in archives in New York, London, and Liverpool were ship logs and ancient court records where Black voices emerged to haunt Hall. Here she interweaves tales reconstructed from historical clues and context with episodes from her oft-thwarted research quest, and describes two Colonial-era New York rebellions and a struggle on the slave ship The Unity. Slave ships, Hall concludes from her research, kept enslaved women on deck and left them unshackled so crewmembers could rape them easily. But these women were often able to steal weapons and hatch plots that led to thousands of shipboard revolts. Illustrator Martínez works in stark black strokes to convey the urgency of this ugly legacy. His images reveal how we live in the wake of the past, by depicting glimpses of wraith-like reflections of slavery’s history in today’s puddles and store windows.
VERDICT Heartbreaking yet triumphant, Hall’s vivid reconstructions bore laser-like into a history long hidden. Her engaged scholarship adds back facts that have been stricken from many histories, and it empowers current lives and activism. Highly recommended for educators and for all adults and teens concerned about the United States’ promise, past, and future for its diverse peoples.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing