The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakas

I saw this reviewed elsewhere on the web and thought it would be a nice complement to the three March books.

Artist: Nate Powell

Published: 2012

Genre: nonfiction graphic novel

Length: 199 pages

Setting: Houston, Texas, 1960s

Summary: We follow two families in Houston in the 1960s as race relations were starting to get very tense, especially on the campus of TSU. There’s a new reporter in town, and he’s made friends with one of the black faculty members at the university. He’s interested in presenting the black side of the issues, although other members of the press aren’t so open-minded. Their friendship extends to the point of getting together for dinner, which causes a bit of stress (neither family has entertained someone of the other color in their house). Students at TSU are trying to get a local chapter of SNCC started, but they’ve been denied by the University. It leads to protests and ultimately a police attack on the men’s dormitory and several students charged with the murder of a policeman.

Final thoughts: Not quite as powerful as the March trilogy, but it did present a different bit of the story of the Civil Rights movement. What I found most memorable was how strong the lines were between the black and white communities. The two families featured in the book were fairly progressive – the men formed a working friendship that developed into “Let’s have dinner together at our house”. But the idea of entertaining a white family in a black household was almost anathema. And the kids just couldn’t get over the differences in each other’s hair! This is definitely meant for an older audience since again we have strong language and violence depicted.

Title comes from: It refers to the difficulty in standing up for one’s beliefs and friends when those around you are strongly against them.

ETA on 4-11-17: I heard a story on NPR that made me rethink the source of the title. Martin Luther King, Jr. made the statement, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends“. I’m pretty sure, that’s the inspiration for the title.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was too short

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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