I See the Promised Land
Written by Arthur Flowers
Illustrated by Manu Chitrakar
Publication Date January 05, 2013
African American writer, griot and blues singer Arthur Flowers and Indian scroll painter Manu Chitrakar combine their very distinctive storytelling traditions in an extraordinary jam session, creating this stunning graphic narrative-style biography of Martin Luther King Jr.
The engaging text describes the apartheid South in Martin Luther King’s time, which in many ways was not very different from the early days of slavery. Included are descriptions of the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the formation of civil rights groups; mass movements against segregation, such as the Albany Movement and the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, after which King became black America’s acknowledged leader; and the influence on King of Gandhi, with his nonviolent approach to resistance. We are told about King’s personal struggles as well as the political challenges he faced with the rise of Malcolm X and Black Power. Flowers’ text concludes with a brief look at his legacy.
Arthur Flowers tells a masterful story in musical prose, based on griot oral storytelling traditions, bringing his own perspective to the events he describes, while Manu Chitrakar carries the tale into the vivid idiom of Patua art, turning King’s historic journey into a truly universal legacy.
Includes editorial notes, a description of how this extraordinary cross-cultural book came to be, and a note on Patua art.
Arthur Flowers teaches at Syracuse University in the English Department's MFA program in Creative Writing. A native of Memphis, he has been Executive Director of the Harlem Writers Guild and co-founder of the New Renaissance Writers Guild and the Pan African Literary Forum. He is a blues-based performance poet who considers himself literary heir to both the Western written tradition and the African oral one. He lives in Syracuse, New York.
Manu Chitrakar began painting when he was twelve years old. As a Patua scroll artist who sings and paints, he is part of a living art and performance tradition that is as open to contemporary news stories and politics as it is to ancient legend and myth. He was so inspired when he heard the story of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement that he wanted to render it in his own artistic tradition. He lives and works in Naya Village in Bengal, India.
"Brilliant and engaging . . . A colorful and passionate addition to the Martin Luther King, Jr., bookshelf." School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"Both evocative and factually rich . . . Flowers provides an incisive and succinct text that steadily maintains the propulsive griot narrative style of King's African ancestry." Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"... a compelling biography that reawakens a life story... an impassioned, sympathetic, and dimensional portrait of [Martin Luther King Jr]... The result is a piece that’s both dramatic and informative, a combination of rolling narration and striking visuals that suggests theater and cinema. Its creative approach will help veteran readers discover King afresh." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"An innovative homage to Martin Luther King that mythologizes him even as it acknowledges his foibles, this book uses a cohesive design to blend African griot storytelling and folk art from India to create a bold graphic novel." Horn Book Reviews
"An outstanding cultural hybrid of unexpected storytelling and graphic traditions." Book Dragon