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The Silence of Our Friends

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,971 ratings  ·  461 reviews
In 1960s Texas, a white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston's color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.

The Silence of Our Friends draws from the childhood of Mark Long, who, with co-author Ji
Paperback, 201 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Holtzbrinck Roaring Book Press First Second
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I'm reading this in conjunction with March Vol. 3. I realize that I don't know a whole lot of what happened in the 60s, but the more I learn about this struggle, the more I am amazed by the bravery of a people who stood up and claimed the right to vote. They put their life on the line.

There was a war going on in the south. People lost their lives and suffered horribly. People can be so vicious. That bothers me. Much of what I see and hear today reminds me of the hate and violence from these his
juicy brained intellectual
just what i was waiting for, a graphic novel about the civil rights movement framed around the white experience

to be fair, i'm sure that it's a deeply personal story for mark long, considering it's about his father and his own experience growing up in 1968 TX. maybe it's a gross kneejerk reaction on my part that i just can't seem to get over, but i cannot fathom the necessity of a whole novel, albeit a graphic one which is obviously more condensed, about white people dealing with black racism. i
First Second Books
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are a few stories about the civil rights movement we all know, and this isn't one of them.


One of the things that I found most interesting about this book (besides that Nate Powell's art is gorgeous -- as always!) is just how much of an unknown story this is. We all know about the civil rights movement -- that's what grade school was for -- but when you start reading about everything that was going on in the sixties, it turns out that Rosa Parks and sit-ins are only a part of the whole
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title comes from Martin Luther King "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends". Goosebumps. At the end Long explains that his book is based on his family's experience in Houston, Texas 1968-an explosive time in the civil rights movement. Certainly not a definitive book, but adds a slice of understanding for that part of our nation's ugly history, and the illustrations are terrific. ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
The title draws on one of Martin Luther King’s more pointed but widely quoted comments: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” But it is a barbed comment – the silence of not using and perpetuating the language of oppression or the silence in the face of that language being used. In this wonderful (and fabulously drawn) tale of the civil rights movement in Houston, we get both kinds of silence, in a story where a local but new to town televisi ...more
I'm not really sure what to make of this one. It's an earnest memoir about author Mark Long's childhood in Houston in the 60's, when his dad worked as a TV reporter covering race issues and befriended the one black man who was willing to talk to him.

On the one hand, the tensions between whites and blacks are starkly shown in sad and disturbing incidents, and the fact that these two men are able to bridge that gulf at all and introduce their families to each other is really touching and inspirin
I'd recommend this to readers who are looking for a factual/historical account of the Civil Rights movement, but I didn't think it had the emotional investment and power of books like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and To Kill a Mockingbird. However, the artwork did, at times, create powerful imagery which added to the story.

I did read it in one sitting, so that might have influenced my opinion. When I was done, I wished there would have been another 100 pages or so to delve into the families a bit
Mississippi Library Commission
Graphic novel fan? Of course. Civil rights buff? Yes, indeed. The Silence of Our Friends is a strong offering from First Second Books. It tells an important and interesting story about the struggle for civil rights in Texas, made even more engaging by its obscurity. Pair this with John Lewis's March: Book One for a well-rounded look at the civil rights movement portrayed in graphic novel format.

Kevin Shepherd
The Silence of Our Friends encapsulates a sympathetic white perspective of the American civil rights movement in Houston, Texas circa 1967. Taken as such, as a bystander's chronicle, it's incredibly well written and drawn. This isn't a definitive accounting of shameful American history, but rather an epilogue written by an eye witness. That's where this novel is successful. Where this novel falls short is in its attempt to portray a black point of view. At those points the story becomes cliché. ...more
Edward Sullivan
A powerful, semi-autobiographical story of racial tensions in late 1960's Dallas that raises tough question and offers no easy answers. ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting story in American History. So much of the ignorance of today could actually be solved if we address our history.
Dani Shuping
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Every so often a book will come along that will challenge you, that will make you think, and that will hopefully leave you a bit better after you’ve read it. And this is just one such book. And yes some people are probably thinking that’s high praise for a graphic novel, but the story will give you chills within the first three pages and suck you in and not let you go until the very end of the story.

It’s 1968 in Houston, Texas and the fight for civil rights is heating up. Young Mark Long’s fathe
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Set in a racially-divided and charged Houston, in 1968, this graphic novel follows two storylines: Jack Long, a white television news reporter, covering the the events around civil rights protests in the city, and Larry Thompson, an African-American teacher at Texas Southern University, who is an organizer of the protests. The two form an uneasy and unexpected friendship, and their paths intersect both in
Jen  Bigheart
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Giving away 5 copies:

Set in Houston, Texas, Silence of Our Friends takes place during a time where racial tensions are high and people's patience is at an all-time low - 1968. Jack is a local television newsman assigned to report on "racial news." After a police officer is shot and killed during a non-violent rally at Texas State University, the town is in an uproar and people start pointing fingers. Actually, all fingers are pointing to five innocent African-American men. J
This is a nonfiction graphic novel about a small period of time in Houston, Texas in 1968 when life was pretty tense due to the civil rights struggle. It is the story of two men–one who is white and one who is African-American–and how they came together to try to break the race barrier in their neighborhoods. Of course there is more to the story than that. Each family is also portrayed and readers learn a bit more about the dynamics of the family behind each man.

I enjoyed reading about these sto
This is a very specific story.

For some reason, when I was reading about this book prior to reading it itself, I had the impression that this was a more comprehensive story about the civil rights struggle in one particular locale. Instead, it's a very personal story about a couple of families and one particular trial after one particular incident. Which doesn't make it a bad book, of course - it just wasn't what I'd expected.

I appreciated the depiction of what being a "race reporter" (I think I
Samantha Tai
This graphic novel is based on the author's father's experiences being a newscaster in Texas during the Civil Rights movement. Jack Long is the newscaster who films the sit-in by Texas Southern University African American students and civil right activists after the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was banned from campus. This non-violent protest became violent after an undercover policeman was shot and police stormed the men's dormitory. It was believed that the policeman was shot by s ...more
This is an impressive graphic novel that tells the true story of the TSU Five and civil rights in Houston from the dual viewpoints of a black professor and a white television news man. The story a somewhat fictionalized account of real events in which Mark Long's father was involved. Police opened fire on the TSU dormitories, and one officer was killed; it was Long's father's testimony that demonstrated that the officer had been killed by friendly fire and helped acquit the black man who was arr ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is (mostly) history done right, which doesn't happen often enough in graphic novels. This is an affecting portrait of the segregated south told from both sides of the divide. This is a quick read, though it is 200 pages long, in part because so much rides on the great Nate Powell who shows rather than tells much of the story. This is a little ironic given the title comes from MLK's "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Powell silently g ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Impossible not to compare this to the March graphic novels - it even has the same illustrator. This is told mainly from a white perspective, and while it is interesting and also a personal story from the authors own life, it doesn't have the power or gravitas of March. Great to read alongside each other. ...more
Zoe's Human
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
This came across as flat and unemotional. It felt more like a recap of the story than a fully developed story.
Tatiana Malone
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I like story book about civil right.
That good long story happen to they.
I really love a story about happen. Rhys same happen before
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of the TSU incident before this book. At times, the narrative seemed to get lost in an effective construction of setting and mood. I found myself having to re-read sections because of what I initially thought were unfinished or contradictory strands. The pace of the last 20 pages is especially quick and compelling. I love the detail of weaving important quotes and ideas into the dialogue of the characters: it's a subtle effect that I would have missed if not for the epilogue. I ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is taken from events that ooccured in Houston, Texas, about 50 years ago.

quote from
The TSU Riot, 50 years later What really happened that night in 1967, and what does it mean for Houston?
Alex LaRotta, for the Houston Chronicle May 16, 2017 Updated: May 17, 2017 9:02am

"Local and national newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, labeled the incident a riot. Visit the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas History Online, and there, under "Riots," a brief description
Mario Ulloa
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book I read was “The Silence Of Our Friends” I would give it an 8.5/10 it is a very interesting book but I will say right now racism is touchy subject for you this is no the book for you, with that out of the way this book is about how in the 1960’s Texas was a racist place. I won't give up to much about this book you will have to read the book to find out what I’m talking about, The Silence Of Our Friends is about how in a place where blacks and whites hate each other one white family accep ...more
Before I start this review, I want to add a quick caveat: as far as I can tell, the creators of this comic are all white (and the main writer, Mark Long, is the son of the white news reporter depicted in this story). That being said, I was a bit dubious at the "white guy is not a dick to black people" story that makes up this comic's plot - those stories often feel like they're pandering to white readers and their feelings. I still gave this book a higher rating because I did enjoy reading it, b ...more
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4.5 stars - rounded up

A strong semi-autobiographical narrative surrounding events in Houston, 1968. The book is constructed around two families, one black and one white, in deeply divided Texas during the Civil Rights movement. Long relates the story of his father, a white news reporter, who befriends a professor at Texas Southern University and a civil rights activist, on
Raquel Castro
Apr 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just another story about how white allies "suffered" for supporting the fight for POC's rights.
I'm tired of this extremly outrageous white-washing of oppresion that white people performed during history.
Also, the authors portray the families from very racist perspectives: while the white family is loving, caring, and supportive, the black family is shown as rude and even violent. For example, they fight a lot, the father hits his son, etc.
Basically, the portray the white family as the good one,
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was just okay. I was expecting a lot out of it, and it didn't really deliver for me. I think the sketchy style of the art was hard to follow sometimes. The scrawled lettering that was supposed to represent distant voices I think threw me off a lot of the time. I'm from Houston, so I liked reading about events that took place in an area I'm familiar with. Also, the "they shot King" page was great. All in all, just okay though. ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful graphic novel drawn by Nate Powell, the same illustrator who did the three March books. I appreciated the musical references and the key scenes that flesh out each of family members.

Highly recommended.

Full review here:

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Mark Long is a video game designer/producer, New York Times bestselling graphic novel author and screenwriter living in Seattle.

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