I’m a librarian now, but for the last year and a half I had the opportunity to put my Women’s History degree to use and teach some History 1301 and 1302 classes. One topic I was constantly searching for added readings or movies on was Executive Order 9066, which gave the green light for the forced relocation and imprisonment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the United States during World War II.
Oh, how I wish I’d had this book for supplementary material!
They Called Us Enemy is co-written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, and gorgeously illustrated by Harmony Becker. It focuses on Takei’s childhood experiences, when his family was sent to live at the Rohwer camp in Arkansas. Later, his parents refused to mark “yes” on a survey declaring that they were wiling to serve in the US armed forces and disavow the Japanese emporer. As “no-nos,” his parents were treated as enemies of the state, and the family was sent to a higher security camp, Tule Lake in California. It was particularly sobering to realize that his parents were about my age when all of this was happening; they lost everything and were forced into an uncertain future with very young children in tow.
Now that the summer semester I was teaching is over, and given recent events in the United States — What the hell is happening? I mean, I know what’s happening, but WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING? — I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some reviews that I never got around to. And what better books to start with than John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s award-winning graphic memoir series, March?
Told in stark black and white panels, the series centers around John Lewis’s remarkable life. Lewis, who organized alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights figureheads in his young and has gone on to fight for civil rights as a Congressman, grew up on a sharecropper’s farm in Alabama. He originally wanted to be a preacher and get away from working in the fields. He fought to attend school, and upon graduation, felt called to higher education away from the South. Still, the Jim Crow South was his life, and as he gained a better understanding of the world, he felt compelled to join the fight for civil rights. March: Book One charts his commitment to education as well as his entry into the civil rights movement, including his first encounter with Dr. King. It recounts behind-the-scenes, nonviolent strategizing among the student movement and culminates with the fight to desegregate lunch counters.