The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

Ten Speed. Jan. 2021. 192p. ISBN 9781984857705. pap. $19.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense emerged in the 1960s to resist police brutality against Black people, and to counter other violence against pacifist civil rights activists like James Meredith. But soon the Panthers loomed in media stories only as a gun-toting threat to white majority America, whose safety purportedly rested only with the police themselves and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Indeed, Hoover’s unscrupulous COINTELPRO campaign of harassment, infiltration, and killings fed sensationalist stereotypes about Black activists. Yet a major Panther focus was providing social services for Black communities: food programs, schools, and healthcare centers. For while President Lyndon Johnson’s Kerner Commission concluded that the lack of such services had contributed to the nation’s racial unrest, the commission’s recommendations were ignored. Walker’s (The Life of Frederick Douglass) detailed and sometimes unflattering account spans 1525 to 1988, incorporating profiles of Panther leaders, cameos of civil rights martyrs, and document excerpts, all brought to life by Anderson’s (Cash and Carrie) clean, realistic colors.
VERDICT This nuanced and gripping history supplies much needed background for today’s activism relating to violence against Black people. For all adult and teen collections.
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