By FuryofObama2012 4 Comments
Most sane thinkers consider MLK to be an important and historic larger-than-life icon, but how did that happen? Especially given the marginalized press coverage of blacks in the 50s, how was his message galvanized among southern minorities and then spread as a single statement beyond the black community -- and how was it focused so specifically to such seemingly ignorable or boring local incidents as one black woman's refusal to give up a bus seat and a following small-town bus boycott, as well as the concept of Passive Resistance? Without any need for hyperbole, this comic book is one of the reasons. Produced by the Fellowship of the Reconciliation and sent very surreptitiously throughout the South (it was dangerous for many to own a copy), then translated, re-drawn, and distributed once again throughout the entire SOUTHERN CONTINENT through Mexico, into Central and then South America, this comic tells the story that established the myth of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks at the time that it mattered, mere months after news events occurred. Intended for adults, but shown in comic book format for the largest possible distribution and audience and instruction.
It was also produced as a comic because more adult seeming publications and newspapers were often destroyed by white businessmen and other violent types bent on continuing segregation's grip on the South. But that does not mean people found distributing copies of this comic were not given their fair share of beatings and harassment, nor does it mean thousands of copies were not often destroyed. Why? This comic is and was dangerously honest. Featuring the Klan (lynching, bombs, burning crosses), Jim Crow laws, and the entire concept of Nonviolent Protest. This pamphlet offered advice and instructions on how to use passive resistance and massive non-violent resistance against segregation, just as these ideas were fresh --and it also established a clear connection of MLK to Gandhi, a public connection that continues on to today.
A copy of this comic is held in the Smithsonian and many Civil Rights leaders recognize this as one of the most important AND PERSUASIVE items of the 50s in establishing or explaining their cause to the world, as well as giving many black youths the courage and direction to hold their own political protests. Many notable sit-ins and demonstrations link to this comic book getting into the right hands - and it did get around, literally devoured by black college students at the time. We're DELIGHTED to offer you not just the American version of this comic but also the SPANISH edition, of which maybe two or three copies are known to exist. After extensive effort and search, we were able to find a copy in Uruguay. Not joking. Completely redrawn and translated, click back and forth to compare art, some of the differences between the two are great.
from the Spanish edition
Here they are, both versions, together for the first time, online or in any format that I know of, either in a printed book or in an online or physical exhibit - click to read
Ever wonder how much influence and power a small press or self-produced item can have? This is one of the best examples you'll ever see.
Happy Martin Luther King Day