Spotlight on Diverse Books: March by John Lewis & Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

It is this week that we take time to remind the positive work of Martin Luther King Jr. and those who worked alongside him, like John Lewis. Even in the still uncertain times, the work of these visionaries still gives hope. I have highlighted two graphic novels, which speak to the racial issues found within our American society.

March by John Lewis  

John Lewis describes his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. He provides first-hand accounts of the marches, sit-ins, and protests. Currently, Lewis is a congressman and the narrative begins by him encouraging two young African American boys in the present to continue working for equality. The book is told largely through flashbacks. Lewis met many of the civil rights leaders and took part in many of notable civil rights organizations. The author is able to weave glimmers hope within desperate situations. While the black community is still fighting for equality, this graphic novel shows that persistence is key in the face of injustice.

The autobiographical account and illustrations make this work more relevant and important. This isn’t a story about an imagined character during these historical conflicts. This book is about a real man who grew up during a time with Jim Crow Laws and the Civil Rights Movement. Not only does this real connection with the story make it more powerful, the man described is still working, in the government, to bring equality to America.

 Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri
Based on a true story. Robert, aka “Yummy,” is a young boy who gets caught up in gang violence and murders someone. He is on the run from the cops and is scared. While in hiding, the media and community begin to grapple with the situation and who is at fault.

This graphic novel brings to light contemporary issues facing the inner cities and African Americans. There has to be a way to give more opportunities to those young kids who are simply a product of their environment. The tensions of all the violent actions described through this novel are still occurring and relevant today. We as a society need to find ways to work together better.

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