Friday, March 4, 2011

Social History in Comics: Dr. MLK Jr.

Although victims of racial discrimination and the whole segregation debacle, the African Americans subscribing to Dr. MLK Jr.'s combined Gandhian and Christian approach to winning social and political change exhibit a remarkable level of tolerance towards their oppressors, as evidenced by this publication from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The first part of the book recounts the history of MLK Jr.'s life and his connection with the Civil Rights Movement. It's reassuring to see that white supporters of racial equality are acknowledged.

The rest of the book gives us a fascinating glimpse, not only into King's approach to achieving change, but to the prevailing conditions that necessitated his tactics. It's uncomfortable but necessary reading, especially because it allows us to observe a baseline by which the outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement can be assessed. The discomfort comes from the unpleasant truth regarding the unjust way a whole section of American society was oppressed and discriminated against.

It's an amazing piece of primary historical evidence that documents King's philosophy, with illustrative examples, and it's especially interesting that it seemingly comes from an African American perspective, although the Fellowship of Reconciliation was not a race-based organization. It's actually a piece of propaganda from an ideological, pacifist 'war' against the tyranny of oppression - very, very American in its underlying principles, and in line with the philosophy at the fundamental core of human rights.

If you enjoyed this comic you might like to read the Golden Legacy Illustrated History of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr.


  1. "the African Americans subscribing to Dr. MLK Jr.'s combined Gandhian and Christian approach" and, of course, Gandhi named Jesus as his ajor influence.

  2. Peter: you can really see the 'turning the other cheek' approach evident here. I would argue, though, that tactically the passive resistance, for example, not using the segregated buses and finding other means to get to work, is straight Gandhi, like how he organized the refusal to subscribe to the British textile industry by encouraging people to use only locally made cloth. The non-violence, however, appears as you say to be Jesus's influence on Gandhi, and don't forget Buddha!