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Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans    by Roland Laird, Taneshia Nash Laird & Elihu Bey order for
Still I Rise
by Roland Laird
Order:  USA  Can
Sterling, 2009 (1997)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Still I Rise - written by Roland Laird with Taneshia Nash Laird and illustrated by Elihu "Adofo" Bey - takes a unique look at the history of African Americans. Told in graphic novel format, this concise and unbiased history takes us from shortly after the founding of America to today in a manner that is easy for all ages to understand.

Being a white American, all I knew about the history of African Americans in the US was what I learned in history texts. While my schools always had good history books, there is only so much that can be crammed into them, so, of course, a lot was left out. By reading Still I Rise, I learned a great deal, not just about the history of African Americans but about the history of the US in general. In fact, I was surprised by how many times my hometown of St. Louis was mentioned (yes, I knew about the Dred Scott decision, but the rest about St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis was all new to me). This volume really opened my eyes.

Aside from being enlightening, Still I Rise is also unbiased. As history texts can have a tendency to do, it does not focus only on the positives. Negative aspects of African American history are also included, and Laird always makes it clear that not all whites were the enemy.

The only problem I had with Still I Rise was the end. Originally published in 1997, a new edition was released this January to cover the decade since then, leading up to Barack Obama's winning the Presidency. These last few pages of the book feel rushed and undeveloped. The panels do not flow as well as in the rest of the book and the lettering is messy, making it feel like this last part was added to capitalize on the 2008 election, which seems to go against the message of the book.

That quibble aside, I do recommend Still I Rise to anyone, no matter what race, interested in American history. This is an enlightening yet easy read.

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