Thursday, January 22, 2009

Still I Rise: New Text on African American Fortitude is Timely and Important

Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans by Roland and Taneshia Laird ; available @; scheduled for release February 3, 2009

Pictorial and Historical-Cultural Narrative is timely, informing, enriching and empowering for African-Americans, and for all Americans

This book is co-authored by husband and wife team, Roland and Taneshia Laird. It is an update of the original text, Still I Rise: A Cartoon History of African Americans, which was published in 1997 and was the first text of its kind, depicting through the use of cartoon illustrations the historical journey of African Americans, from pre-Colonial times to the present day. Throughout this journey, a spirit of fortitude , perseverance, and the will to overcome has served African-Americans and strengthened them, allowing them not only to survive, but to adapt and to evolve as a people.

~Roland and Taneshia Laird are co-authors of both texts. A native New Yorker, Roland Laird graduated from Brown University. While a student there, he was co-founder of the university's Page Black Alumni Council. He is the founder and CEO of Posro Media, an entertainment and production company which uses diverse media formats to depict and explore African American history and culture. Laird seeks to project positive and strong images which serve as a counterbalance and compensation for the all-too-often negative sterotypes which are a cultural blight. His wife and co-author, Taneshia Nash Laird, is a graduate of Baruch College of New York City, and served as marketing director of Posro Media. She currently acts as Executive Director of Trenton's Downtown Association. The couple reside in Trenton, NJ with their daughter, Imani Fasarah Laird.

~A foreward by Charles Johnson introduces the reader to the plight of black cartoonists in American history. Two elderly narrators, male and female, take the reader from the year 1618 to the year of Barack Obama's election. A tendecy on the part of the woman to black nationalism is nicely balanced by the wider perspective of her male counterpart. The skill and autonomy of black slaves gives way to the rich activity of modern African American inventors, scholars, and entrepreneurs. All major political and historical events and organizations are covered in this epic text.

~The book has received extremely favorable reviews, one such being by Phyllis Rhodes of the AP Book Club, who asserted that the book should be, "required reading for students" , noting that the graphics "appeal to all ages". In a News and Reviews Online chronicle, the book was said to have "already gained its audience in academia". The original format of the book received high praise from Entertainment Weekly , which gave it the high mark of an A-, while lauding it as "packed with epic information" and "engaging and well written".

~Certainly, the updating of the original 1997 text is timely and important. The incorporation of the historical event of the election of Barack Obama as our nation's 44th predident enhances the meaning and importance of this book considerably. Barack Obama fulfils the Hegelian historical hero archetype, who sits astride the great moment of history's turning, wherein the apex and reversal of all which preceded is inherited and surpassed and gives birth to a new future. The formidable American historians and political analysts, Howe and Strauss, anticipated in stunning detail the arrival of just such a Thiteenth generation leader in the opening years of the 21st century. Barack Obama is poised in the historical moment: his coming was sudden, and his ascension was aided by the urgency of both black and white Americans, hungry for change. Charismatic, stunning in his oratory skills, he seems almost tailor made to take the helm in these troubled times. Both Roland and Taneshia Laird, speaking in a recent interview, noted that Obama is indeed a consequence of all which has gone before; the fruit of a long line of preceeding struggles. Said Taneshia, "Without all that existed before him, Obama could not exist." Roland added, "He is the beginning of something. We'll see what that something is." This writer has no doubt that Barack Obama is nothing short of an American rendesvouz with Fate and Destiny. As a white woman, I yearn for his leadership as strongly as all who followed him throughout the primary and general election season. And what a gift he is to us; and in the same terms, I hope the Lairds will present this text as a gift to the new President: He could hardly receive a more beautiful present, or one more meaningful and timely.


ProfessorM2008 said...

Wow, Susan, thanks for calling my attention to this text ( and also to the post below about adorable Sasha Obama; she's a sweetie). As a professor of Sociology, and in particular, with my teaching an online Sociology of Family course, I have a keen interest in a book such as this one, and its timely relation to the start of the Presidency of Barack Obama. Thanks again, will look further after my time crunch is over. Hope to talk soon.

SM Kovalinsky said...

Yes, I believe in the importance of a text such as this one, and the new edition coinciding with the swearing in of our generation's most dynamic and oratory President is a blessing, to be sure. One more win against the nay-sayers, for certain. Obama empowers African Americans and every kind of American. He is the great Unifier, at last, IMHO.

Jesamyn said...

As an Australian woman who finds this blog quite fascinating and unique, I would love to read this book. My first 10 years were spent in South Africa where I witnessed many cruel and inhumane acts, both physical and simply humiliating to a race of kind and noble people. All of us worldwide who have despaired at injustice, intolerance and cruelty are rejoicing in this dawning of a new era. I have learned more from Susan Marie Kovalinsky's blog than knowing where to trudge through volumes of books.

Hurlyburly said...

"Still I rise" was also the name of one of the late, great Tupac Shakur's albums, released after his death.

Just a random fact, please continue

SM Kovalinsky said...

Hey, Martin: That is most interesting. Tupac was an important African American figure, culturally. Thanks for that.

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