First, there was Fist Stick Knife Gun, a memoir by Geoffrey Canada, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harlem Children's Zone. The Zone was praised by the New York Times as "… one of the most ambitious social experiments of
our time. It combines educational, social and medical services. It
starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those
services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an
entire neighborhood … The objective is to create a safety net woven so
tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through." Canada has been called, "One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation." And Publisher's Weekly said of his memoir, "A more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a
more compelling plea to end 'America's war against itself' cannot be
A couple years ago, Beacon Press began work on a few graphic books. Fist Stick Knife Gun was one of the first titles chosen, and Jamar Nicholas was brought on board by editor Allison Trzop to bring it to reality. Jamar posted on the blog early in the process, and shared some sketches with us along the way:
Independence Day reminds us not only of our rights as Americans, but also of our rights as human beings on a global scale. This week, our authors have been using their freedom of speech to promote further rights in fields such as education, religion, and LGBT law. Take a look at what they have been up to.
In Steve Wilson's book, The Boys from Little Mexico, one all-Hispanic boys' soccer team surpasses ethnic boundaries and personal struggles to win the Oregon state championship. Recently quoted in Newsweek, Wilson praises the Mexican-American players in the World Cup and their drive for success. The Oregon newspaper, the Woodburn Independent, ran a review for Wilson's book, praising it for taking the local story to a national level.
In his book From the Closet to the Courtroom, Carlos Ball discusses in rich detail five lawsuits that have affected LGBT rights for Americans. In a poignant article for the Huffington Post, Ball poses the question "Is it time for gay federal judges?" Diversity Inc. posted a short interview with the author and the Advocate.com recently ran an excerpt from the book on the topic of high school harassment. An outstanding review of the book was recently posted on Lambda Literary stating "[Ball] appeals to the hearts of his readers by fleshing out the human players in each chapter without sacrificing scholarship."
Harassment often led to violence for our next author, Geoffrey Canada, whose memoir Fist Stick Knife Gun recounts the dangers of growing up in the South Bronx. Waiting for Superman—a new documentary on America's failing education system featuring Canada—was mentioned in Entertainment Weekly. As buzz for the film begins to grow, Geoffrey Canada speaks in a brief interview about his personal feelings towards his childhood when his ideal image of Superman was rocked by the harsh realities of life.
Education is failing in both American schools and juvenile penitentiary systems according to David Chura, author of I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine. Listen to an interview with Chura on KPFA's Flashpoints(starting 43 minutes into the program) discussing the realities of juvenile incarceration. Listen to another interview with Chura on WMUA Writer's Voice where he describes how the war on crime is synonymous with the war on kids.
Finally, in celebration of UUA's General Assembly in Minneapolis, Beacon authors John Buehrens and Rebecca Ann Parker appeared on the radio program State of Belief to discuss their views on social activism and religion. In their book, A House for Hope, the authors describe a shared momentum among religious progressives and the impact they have on the 21st century. Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith, also appeared on the show, discussing his interactions with the Dalai Lama in strengthening Buddhist-Muslim ideals.