This non-fiction work opens with Uncle Sam and John Bull in a pub, drinking and joking about protest movements. They complain that people are ungrateful and don’t appreciate what they have. They start to tease the lady in the corner—who happens to be Lady Liberty—inviting her to join them (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Instead, she begins to argue with them. Uncle Sam and John Bull say people have lots of awesome rights, the right to protest for one, and should stop complaining, but Lady Liberty points out that most of these rights were won through protest. She goes on to illustrate her point with many examples from history.
While this work can not cover each and every protest movement, it does a decent job covering a handful of the major protests that occurred in the English speaking world in the last couple hundred years, including the Swing Riots in England in the early 1800s, the Irish rebellions over the centuries, the Australian general strike of 1917, the bus boycotts in Montgomery, AL in the 1950s, and the Occupy movement in America which began in 2011. Along the way, depicted protestors build the case for why protests happen and are needed. For example, on page 30, the question, “Don’t we have the right to a peaceful protest?” is answered by, “I think, for them, peaceful means non-threatening. If we threaten their control, even through peaceable means, they will respond.”
At times, it can be a bit wordy, like in the introduction to the roots of the Occupy movement:
“…according to the theory, governments cannot interpret or respond to market signals and human need as quickly or efficiently as competitive, profit-driven companies can. Therefore, privatization is seen as a more effective method of achieving greater stability, wealth, and happiness for everybody.” It’s an interesting and actually fairly concise explanation, but still dense reading, which pushes the book towards a teen or adult audience.
Artistically, the drawings are straightforward line drawings, clear and easy to read. The art seems to exist in order to be serviceable, to help convey the message of the book, but nothing more. So there is nothing too creative going on with angles or viewpoints or anything; it feels like the illustrator is saying, “just illustrating the facts ma’am.” However, this book will be just the thing as a supplement to classroom teaching or for help on a paper.
Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among the English Speaking Peoples
by Sean Michael Wilson, Benjamin Dickson
Art by Hunt Emerson, John Spelling, Adam Pasion
Seven Stories Press, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: (teen to adult)