The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate
Here are four reasons why most of us need to read this book:
First reason: history. We all should know more about Reconstruction – a “cultural blind spot,” as Chris Barton rightfully laments in his author’s note. “I think it’s a shame how little we question why the civil rights movement in this country occurred a full century following the emancipation of slaves rather than immediately after.”
Second: effective writing. You need to appreciate just how meaningfully clever that title is – it’s a two-fold reference to our hero’s remarkable age when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at just 25, and to the post-Emancipation Proclamation era which was “an age of amazing promise and potential” during which John Roy Lynch was freed from serving his master and to leading his constituents just 10 years later as an elected politician.
Third: artful intellectual stimulation. Barton tells such a tall tale … that’s actually all true. Lest you have any misplaced doubts, Barton includes extensive end papers, including historical notes and personal statements, a color-coded timeline, additional resources, and even a map of “reconstructed United States.” Artist Don Tate amplifies Barton’s text with resonating milestones from Lynch’s life, from his birth as “half Irish and all slave,” to “true emancipation” at age 16, to the various jobs that eventually led to his appointment as a Justice of the Peace in Mississippi at just 21, to his entry into lofty state then federal government positions.
Fourth: urgency. Almost a century-and-a-half later, Lynch’s legacy remains unequivocally necessary, specifically given the recent tragedies of Ferguson and Baltimore. Lynch’s vision is crystal clear: “When every man, woman, and child can feel and know that his, her, and their rights are fully protected by the strong arm of a generous and grateful Republic, then we can all truthfully say that this beautiful land of ours, over which the Star Spangled Banner so triumphantly waves, is, in truth and in fact, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.'” We’ve got work to do for sure.
Every generation gets a new opportunity to learn, grow, strengthen this ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Get inspired with Lynch … and help the next amazing age begin.