I majored in history education as an undergrad, so when I come across historical themed books, I can’t shake the part of me that says ‘This would be great in a classroom library, this could hook reluctant learners.’ See, that’s exactly what I thought when I finished The Silence Of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos with art by Nate Powell, a graphic novel detailing a neighborhood suburb of Houston, Texas rife with racial tension in 1968 after SNCC protests.
Essentially, The Silence Of Our Friends when you completely boil it down is a vignette about two men and their families. Jack Long is a white news reporter who moves from San Antonio to racist Houston to report on the race issue and especially focus on Larry Thomas, a TSU professor and leader of the protests at TSU (Texas State University). The friendship between the two men crosses racial lines, but never really turns into a whole white messiah thing.
Rather, The Silence Of Our Friends illustrated the complexity of racial issues succinctly -which contrary to popular belief still exist today (just because we have a Black president does not mean racism is dead). From those who are the victims of racism (Larry Thomas is not allowed to buy chicken necks at a store because of his skin color and we see it for the degrading moment it is) to allies who are targeted (Jim Long called an N-lover), the race issue is no walk in park to be solved by holding hands and singing kumbaya.
The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakis is absolutely engaging and a complex graphic novel that I think could be analyzed on a deeper level and has broader historical themes. It is fantastic from beginning to the very end with the author’s note and will hopefully affect you as much as it did me.
Disclosure: Received for Review.