This graphic novel (GN) is loosely based on the co-author's, Mark Long, childhood in 1967/68 when his father, a white television reporter named Jack, befriended Larry Thomas, a black editor and activist.
There is one scene that I kept thinking about long after I read the last line of the book: After the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is banned from Texas Southern University, Larry leads what he believes will be a peaceful demonstration.
It turns violent when the police arrive and start thwacking protesters, causing a riot.
Larry is beaten and as he goes down, he yells for Jack who is there covering the demonstration. It is depicted in a way that makes it seem like Jack was being beaten at the same time, but Larry doesn’t see it that way.
I guess it stuck with me because I listened to Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock soon after reading this book.
Benjamin Fine, a reporter, tried to console Elizabeth Eckford after she was taunted by a mob for simply trying to attend Central High School.
The author of the book, David Margolick, says years later, Fine was asked why he sacrificed professionalism and objectivity to try to help Elizabeth and he said, “A reporter has to be a human being.”
That act of kindness impressed me and certainly could have been an option for Jack in The Silence of Our Friends.
In one of my classes we talk about ways to incorporate GNs when teaching content. Silence of Our Friends is a little known glimpse at a town, a university, a community about to come to grips with change.
The authors try to delve into racist and prejudice attitudes by showing how black and white children and adults look at the other in this book. A high school social studies or English class might use it to talk about what the climate was like during that time and how/if it has changed today.
Would you teach a GN?
Interesting Graphic Novel Stuff:
Read excerpts of The Silence of Our Friends.
Graphic novels are quite popular and helpful to some readers. Take a look at this post about graphic novels with a fairytale theme.
I’ve blogged about King by Ho Che Anderson which is biographical.
You can look inside King .