Black Lives Matter Comics Reading Lists

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BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Black Lives Matter Reading List

Last updated June 8, 2020

Comic books have always been political. They are both a reflection and a barometer of our times. From the first appearance of Captain America in March 1941 punching the face of Hitler, to recent titles like I am Alfonso Jones and MARCH - titles tackling police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter, and the life story of Congressman John Lewis - comic books have been and continue to be vitally important avenues to visually tell our stories, to share our histories, and to show experiences and multiple perspectives while engaging both sides of our brain.

The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association affirms the ALA Executive Board's statement and stands in support of not only the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, but also the Black community at large. The United States has a long history of violence against the Black community and white supremacy is laid into the foundation of our societal contract.

In solidarity, the GNCRT is collaborating with our colleagues at the BCALA on this reading list that draws attention to the Black experiences of the past and present to demand a new future for our Black friends and neighbors. It is our hope that this list will grow and serve as an important resource going forward for educators, parents, and readers of all ages.

We must not stand by in silence as lives continue to be unnecessarily taken. Action and education must happen. Join us. #saytheirnames #BlackLivesMatter

Have suggestions for additional titles to add to this list?

Please visit BCALA online or email GNCRT at gncrt@ala.org with the Subject Heading, ‘Black Lives Matter Reading List. Alternatively, connect with us on social media - @BC_ALA and @libcomix - with #bcala #libcomix #BlackLivesMatter


Children’s Comics, Graphic Novels & Picture Books

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Selina Alko, writer; Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, artists.

2015, Arthur A. Levine Books [Scholastic]

Nonfiction picture book about the landmark Supreme Court case 1967 Loving v. Virginia in which Mildred and Richard Loving, legally married in Washington D.C., fought against segregation laws in their home state of Virginia in which interracial marriage was a criminal act.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Dream Big, Little One

Vasthi Harrison, writer and artist.

2018, Little, Brown Kids

This beautifully illustrated board book edition and adaptation of instant bestseller Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History showcases eighteen women who changed the world and is the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Vashti Harrison, writer and artist.

2017, Little, Brown and Company

The forty bold women featured include civil rights activist Rosa Parks, gymnast Dominique Dawes, and Civil War-era Union secret intelligence agent Mary Bowser.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History

Vashti Harrison, writer and artist; with Kwesi Johhnson, writer.

2019, Little, Brown and Company

Among these thirty five biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include artist Aaron Douglas, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, musician Prince, photographer Gordon Parks, tennis champion Arthur Ashe, and writer James Baldwin.

Publisher site

Worldcat

The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for Equal Education

Gary Jeffrey, writer; Nana Li, artist

2013, Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Nonfiction graphic novel about the African American students chosen to integrate a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down school segregation.

Publisher site

Worldcat

New Kid

Jerry Craft

2019, HarperCollins

When seventh-grader Jordan Banks starts attending a private school that is primarily white, he has to learn how to navigate microaggressions, tokenism, and not fitting in. Newbery Medal Award, 2020. Coretta Scott King Award, 2020.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Strange Fruit. Volume II: More Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History

Joel Christian Gill, writer and artist

2018, Fulcrum Publishing

A collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the eight illustrated chapters chronicles an uncelebrated African American hero or event.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Tales of the Talented Tenth: No. 2, Bessie Stringfield

Joel Christian Gill, writer and artist

2016, Fulcrum Publishing

Imagine a five-foot-two-inch-tall woman riding a Harley eight times across the continental United States. Now imagine she is black and is journeying across the country in the pre-Civil Rights era of the 1930s and '40s.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Woke Baby

Mahogany Browne, writer; Theodore Taylor, illustrator

2018, Roaring Brook Press

Woke babies are up early. Woke babies raise their fists in the air. Woke babies cry out for justice. Woke babies grow up to change the world. This lyrical and empowering book is both a celebration of what it means to be a baby and what it means to be woke. With bright, playf inul art, Woke Baby is an anthem of hope in a world where the only limit to a skyscraper is more blue.

Publisher site

Worldcat

A Wreath for Emmett Till

Marilyn Nelson, writer; Philippe Lardy, artist

2005, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Nonfiction picture book by award winning poet Marilyn Nelson detailing the 1955 murder of Emmett Louis Till. Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, 2006. Michael L. Printz Honor Award, 2006.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Young Adult Comics & Graphic Novels

Black History in Its Own Words

Ronald Wimberly

2017, Image Comics

Black history, as told through quotes from the Black men and women who shaped and made it.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Black Panther & The Crew: We are the Streets

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, and Jackson Butch Guice

2017, Marvel Worldwide, Inc.

The death of a Harlem activist kicks off a mystery that will reveal surprising new secrets about the Marvel Universe's past - and set the stage for a huge story in the near future!... Fear, hate and violence loom, but don't worry, The Crew's got this: They are the streets.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Colorblind: A Story of Racism

Johnathan Harris, writer; Donald Hudson, artist; Fahriza Kamaputra, colorist

2019, Zuiker Press

“Colorblind – Johnathan’s story of multiculturalism – is a gripping story of a 15-year-old boy who had his civil rights violated by police officers in Long Beach, California. Jonathan’s uncle, who was in prison at the time, teaches the young boy how to deal with racism by seeing the world through a multicultural lens rather than the color of people’s skin. In the end, the two bestow upon each other the most valuable gift of all: freedom.” Publisher site includes discussion videos and other resources.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Colored: The Unsung Life of Claudette Colvin

Émilie Plateau

2019, Europe Comics

A biography of Claudette Colvin, who was arrested at the age of 15 when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a short time before Rosa Parks.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Don Brown

2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Using precise language and powerful illustrations, Brown tells a riveting tale of heroism, courage, racism, and incompetence during one of America’s worst natural disasters.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence

Joel Christian Gill

2020, Oni Press

An autobiographical comic about Joel's childhood. He lived in a rough neighborhood where violence was often seen as the answer, but he wanted a different path for himself.

Publisher site

Worldcat

I Am Alfonso Jones

Tony Medina, writer; Stacey Robinson and John Jennings, artists

2017, Tu Books

Alfonso Jones, a young black teen, is only trying to buy a suit when an off-duty cop mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun and shoots him on sight.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography

Andrew Helfer, writer; Randy DuBurke, artist

“A graphic novel that shows Malcolm Little's transformation from a black youth beaten down by Jim Crow America into Malcolm X, the charismatic, controversial, and doomed national spokesman for the Nation of Islam.” - Baker & Taylor

Publisher site

Worldcat

MARCH

John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, writers; Nate Powell, artist

2013 - 2016, Top Shelf Productions

A three volume history of the Civil Rights Movement, as experienced by civil rights leader and U.S. congressman John Lewis.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Monster: A Graphic Novel

Walter Dean Myers, writer; Guy A. Sims, adapter; Dawud Anyabwile, artist

2015, Harper Collins

Teen Steve Harmon records his experience of awaiting trial for robbery and murder. A graphic adaptation of the award-winning Walter Dean Myers novel.

Publisher Site

Worldcat

Pitch Black

Anthony Horton, writer; Youme Landowne, writer and artist

2008, Cinco Puntos Press

Writer/artist Horton tells his story of living homeless six stories below city streets in New York City’s subway tunnels.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling

Marc Mauer, writer; Sabrina Jones, adapter and artist

2013, The New Press

Explore the causes of the exponential growth of the U.S. prison system, and how the country has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Superman Smashes the Klan

Gene Luen Yang, writer; Gurihiru, artist

2020, DC Comics

“The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis' Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman!” - from the publisher.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Gregory Neri, writer; Randy Duburke, artist

2010, Lee & Low Books

A fictional retelling of the life of 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, attempts to explain the circumstances that turned a young boy from candy-loving child to gun-wielding gang member.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Adult Comics & Graphic Novels

Are You at Risk for “Empathy Myopia”?

Ezra Claytan Daniels

Upgrade Soul author and BTTM FDRS writer Daniels “considers the idea that we subconsciously force our experiences into moral narratives that satisfy an evolutionary desire for order. But if we believe everything happens for a reason, what happens when our reasoning is flawed?” Also available in print through Radiator Comics.

Big Black: Stand at Attica

Frank “Big Black” Smith and Jared Reinmuth, writers; Ameziane, artist

2020, Archaia [Boom! Studios]

Big Black's memoir about his time as a prisoner in Attica State Prison and the 1971 rebellion against injustices in the prison system.

Publisher Site

Worldcat

Bitter Root

David F. Walker and Chuck Brown, writers; Sanford Greene, artist

2019, Image Comics

The Sangerye family is racing the clock to save 1920s New York from supernatural forces threatening to infect the community with hate.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Black

Kwanza Osajyefo, writer/co-creator; Tim Smith 3, designer/co-creator; Jamal Igle, artist

2016-2017, Black Mask Studios

When a young man survives being shot by police, he discovers that he is part of a small group of Black people who possess superpowers.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Black (AF): America’s Sweetheart

Kwanza Osajyefo, writer/co-creator; Tim Smith 3, co-creator; Jennifer Johnson, artist

2018, Black Mask Studios

15-year-old Eli Franklin lives in a world that just discovered only Black people have superpowers. She is also the most powerful among them.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Black History for Beginners

Denise Dennis, writer; Susan Willmarth, illustrator

2007, For Beginners.

Covers Black history starting with enslavement and continuing through the Civil Rights movement to the 2000s.

Publisher site

Worldcat

From Truth With Truth

Lawrence Lindell

2020, Lawrence Lindell

In this “Kinda a Graphic Memoir,” Lindell shares insight into his childhood and adolescence, learning to come to terms with depression, PTSD, and Bipolar disorder in concert with his identity.

Publisher site

Worldcat

The Harlem Hellfighters

Max Brooks, writer, Caanan White, artist

2014, Broadway Books

Fictionalized story of the all-Black 369th Infantry. It follows members of the group from enlistment to their brave fight in World War I France and never shies away from the prejudice they encountered along the way.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (New Edition)

Mat Johnson, writer; Warren Pleece, artist

2018, Berger Books [Dark Horse Comics]

Two fictional black reporters who are able to “pass” as white are sent to Mississippi to investigate the murder of a white woman. Prequel Incognegro: Renaissance is also available from the same publisher.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Josephine Baker

José-Louis Bocquet, witer; Catel Muller, artist

2017, SelfMadeHero

Traces the life of the extraordinary Josphine Baker from her performances in Paris to her work with the French Resistance during World War II and her activism after the war.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Octavia Butler, writer; Damian Duffy, adapter; John Jennings, artist

2017, Abrams ComicArts

“Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.” - from the publisher.

Publisher site

WorldCat

King — A Comics Biography: The Special Edition

Ho Che Anderson

2010, Fantagraphics

A multifaceted look at Martin Luther King Jr. in both his life as a leading Civil Rights activist and advocate for racial equality, and his untimely and violent death.

Publisher site

Worldcat

The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of an Extraordinary Life

David F. Walker, writer; Damon Smyth and Marissa Louise, artists

2019, Ten Speed Press

“A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker, and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American.” - from the publisher.

Publisher site

Worldcat

The Nib

The Nib is a webcomic publisher primarily focused on political and social commentary. Over the years, a number of creators have published invaluable work on Black experience in the United States. We have provided links to a few selections below, but it is not exhaustive.

Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Octavia Butler, writer; Damian Duffy, adapter; John Jennings, artist

2020, Abrams ComicArts

“In this graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, the author portrays a searing vision of America’s future. In the year 2024, the country is marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. Lauren Olamina, a preacher’s daughter living in Los Angeles, is protected from danger by the walls of her gated community. However, in a night of fire and death, what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny . . . and the birth of a new faith.” - from the publisher

Publisher site

Worldcat

The Silence of Our Friends

Mark Long and Jim Demonakos, writer; Nate Powell, artist

2018 (updated edition), First Second/Square Fish (Macmillian)

In this semi-autobiographical story, two families find common ground during a little-remembered incident from the civil rights movement.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Silver Wire

Kriota Willberg

Draw Stronger author Willberg considers the history of medical experimentation on unwilling subjects, with particular emphasis on “founding father of gynecology” J. Marion Sims’ abuse of enslaved Black women, and the ramifications of benefiting from this cruel approach to medicine. Author introduction and print editions.

Three-Fifths a Man: A Graphic History of the African American Experience

Sid Jacobson, writer; Ernie Colón, artist

2020, MacMillan

“Through richly drawn four-color illustrations and concise, accessible chapters, Jacobson and Colón convey a history of hardship and hope—a painful and necessary process, full of victories and setbacks, from the Amistad mutiny and the Three-Fifths Compromise to Brown v. Board of Education and the Scottsboro Boys. We see the first African slaves arriving in Jamestown in 1619, watch as the ‘peculiar institution’ undermines our founding ideals, witness the triumph of the Union in the Civil War followed by the collapse of Reconstruction in the South, and observe the hard-won progress of the civil rights movement from the early twentieth century to its contemporary iterations.” - from the publisher

Publisher site

Worldcat

Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures

Yvan Alagbé

2018, New York Review Comics

Although set in a French context among Beninese immigrants, the title story in this collection effectively explores life as a member of an overly-scrutinized minority.

Publisher site

Worldcat

Your Black Friend

Ben Passmore

2016, Silver Sprocket

An exploration of the stresses and harm a Black man experiences in his everyday life through his relationships with non-Black people.

Publisher site

Worldcat