A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Primarily an autobiography but also traces and touches on many pivotal moments in the history of the Great Migration and Black freedom struggle. These interludes include dates and illustrations of events like the march on Selma, the murder of Medgar Evers, the Birmingham church bombing, etc. Lots of information about the controversy surrounding student athlete protests and the violence leading up to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
"Those fists in the air were dedicated ... to everyone struggling... We had to be seen because we were not being heard."
Positive Role Models
Protagonist and narrator Tommie Smith is a remarkable, inspiring figure who risked his career -- and ultimately paid a steep price -- to call attention to the plight of Black Americans in a segregated and unequal country. Along the way, he encountered and drew inspiration from civil rights icons like Martin Luther King Jr., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Harry Edwards, Huey Newton. Their courage and commitment to social justice make them outstanding role models and subjects for young readers to learn more about.
This compelling and personal narrative of one man's life intersects with the long civil rights movement, from the Great Migration of Black farmworkers out of the South, to the history of lynching and racial terror that enforced segregation, through the emergence of Black student athlete protests in the 1960s, the Black Power movement, and beyond. The book deals openly and honestly with both the pain of racial prejudice and the power of activist solidarity.
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Violence & Scariness
One haunting image of a Ku Klux Klan lynching, including a depiction of a body hanging. Other instances of assassinations, racial violence, and police violence are described and occasionally depicted, but not graphically.
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Several moments where Black characters have racial slurs angrily screamed at them, including the "N" word.
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Products & Purchases
Mention of the Puma shoes that Tommie Smith and teammate John Carlos had with them but had taken off for the ceremony on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. They took their shoes off as a symbolic protest of Black poverty.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice is a collaboration between Tommie Smith and Newberry Honor author Derrick Barnes, is a moving and inspiring graphic novel about athlete and activist Smith, the U.S. gold medalist runner and civil rights icon who took a stand against injustice by raising his fist atop the podium at the 1968 Olympic Games. It won a 2023 YALSA Award for Nonfiction, as well as 2023 Coretta Scott King Author Honor and lllustrator Honor. Through the eyes of Tommie, the book deals with heavy topics such as racism, poverty, police brutality, and anti-Black violence, including a Ku Klux Klan lynching, with a depiction of a body hanging. Assassinations, racial violence, and police violence are described and occasionally depicted but not graphically. There are several moments where Black characters have racial slurs angrily screamed at them, including the "N" word. The book also highlights the incredible power -- and heavy cost -- of using your platform to take a stand against injustice.
Is It Any Good?
This heartfelt and emotional autobiography is a masterful example of storytelling. The way authors Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes weave historical events into the life journey of such a remarkable person is seamless, making this book a wonderful way to familiarize teen readers with major figures and moments in civil rights history. Vivid, breathtaking illustrations by Emmy Award-winning artist Dawud Anyabwile help the characters jump off the page, whether in motion on the track or in deep conversations with friends and family.
For teens interested in sports, activism, and the intersection between the two, Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice should be required reading. Everyone, however, can enjoy and learn from this civil rights hero's reflective memoir about his brave and costly gesture that inspired the world and reverberates to this day.
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