Across the Tracks

by Alverne Ball and Stacy Robinson
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are depictions of violence, including lynching. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

In the early 1900s, due to Jim Crow, the Blacks in Tulsa developed their own community. They had stores, libraries, doctors, and were a thriving community. Of course, because of white supremacy, the white people in town couldn’t have the Blacks getting all successful. They invented a reason to arrest and lynch a Black kid, and then, when the Black families rose up in defense, burned the Black part of town, killing and unhousing families. The Black people built things back, but it wasn’t ever the same, and the white people swept history under the rug.

This is a very good history of that moment in time, highlighting the achievements of the Black people — doctors, lawyers, businessmen, educators — as well as the maliciousness of the white people. The text is pretty frank, and the art reflects that: it’s realistic and descriptive.

I think this is an important graphic novel and one that everyone should read. But, I’m not sure it was a great graphic novel It was lacking something to bring me into the story – perhaps because it was history and not really a story. it lacked a personal element, something to make me really care when the Black part of town burned. (That sounded harsh; I mean I care that white people were awful and racist and destructive. I just meant the story lacked an emotional core, if that makes sense.)

Recommended for the history.

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