Tag: The Life of Frederick Douglass

Book review: The Life of Frederick Douglass by David F. Walker

Illustrated by Damon Smyth

Review by Tess Tabak

the life of frederick douglass coverIn this powerful new graphic novel, David F. Walker presents Frederick Douglass’s story in a compact narrative that young readers and adults alike can enjoy. With illustrations by Damon Smyth and short lessons that contextualize the history around Douglass’s life, this work will give readers a broader understanding of the end of slavery, and the events leading up to it.

Best known for his work on superhero comics like Luke Cage and Cyborg, Walker does justice to this real life hero’s story. In our Q&A with him, he discussed the importance of telling stories like this, and the need for black heroes, both fictional and historic.

I think Walker’s graphic novel, geared towards young readers, is crucial in making Frederick Douglass’s story accessible for kids. Last year, I was tutoring a 7th grader on the Civil War. I asked him when slavery had ended in America– he answered, with a straight face, that “racism ended in 1980 when Martin Luther King ended slavery”. He believed that, after months of covering slavery in school and despite living in one of the most diverse cities in America. Reading Douglass’s first memoir with him was a painful experience. Not only did he struggle over almost every single word of the text, he had no context for when the events happened. Slavery (and the 20th century, apparently) was a far off fantasy, an abstract myth. Continue reading

Q&A with David F. Walker, author of the Life of Frederick Douglass

the life of frederick douglass coverWhat does Luke Cage have in common with Frederick Douglass?

Answer: more than you might expect. At New York Comic Con in October, David F. Walker discussed the parallels between black heroes from fiction and real life, and the importance of both. “I wouldn’t be up here on stage talking to you if it wasn’t for the fictional heroes [like Luke Cage] and the historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.”

For the past few years, Walker has been bringing humanity back into black superheroes, such as giving Cyborg back some of his body. Recently, he turned his hand towards a hero from history, penning The Life of Frederick Douglass, a graphic novel designed to give an overview of Douglass’s life to young readers, or anyone who’d like to know more about history. It will be released January 8th from Ten Speed Press.

We spoke to David F. Walker about #BlackLivesMatter, the history of racism, and the importance of black representation.

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