by Taylor Nix
In December of 1957, a comic book was published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation that would forever change the Civil Rights Movement and would prove to be one of the most monumental teaching techniques imaginable. The Montgomery Story, a 14-page comic chronicles the story of the successful 1956 Montgomery bus boycott with Martin Luther King Jr. at the helm. In just two pages of the comic, Ghandi's techniques of passive resistance were introduced and set the framework for future action.
This comic book went on to be used as a guide for students who launched the sit-in movement. On February 1, 1960, just four black college students entered a Woolworth’s drugstore in Greensboro, North Carolina and were determined to be served while sitting. Although they knew only whites were allowed to sit on the stools and eat, these four black students did not leave until the drugstore closed. Even though they were never served, they returned the next day, but they were not alone. This time, 27 other students where with them. The sit-in movement that started with only four students attracted nationwide publicity and media coverage during a time when Civil Rights were being ignored and received little to no attention.
Peaceful protests and other activities were believed to be the result of black college students reading The Montgomery Story. The fight against Jim Crow was inspired by use of a comic book. Merely possessing The Montgomery Story comic book during the 1960’s in the south was considered dangerous and could have resulted in death. It is speculated that 250,000 copies of the comic were printed, but most didn’t remain intact. The comic was initially reprinted in Spanish and has since been translated into Arabic, Farsi and Vietnamese. None of the authors or illustrators of the comic were ever identified.
This comic book was genius. Not only did it educate the many young soldiers in the Army about Civil Rights, sit-ins and the Ku Klux Klan but many of these soldiers had been taught at sub-standard, separate but unequal schools and were unable to read. With the images and pictures that are standard for a comic book, most were lured in by the vivid illustrations. This comic book afforded them and others the opportunity to learn.
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