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WAKE, Rebecca Hall with illustrations by Hugo Martinez “It is a part of living …

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WAKE, Rebecca Hall with illustrations by Hugo Martinez

“It is a part of living in the wake of slavery. We must defend the dead and fight the violence inflicted on them by their erasure from the record.”


Part graphic novel and part memoir, Dr. Rebecca Hall – a historian and granddaughter of enslaved people – details her efforts to uncover the truth about the Black enslaved women who led revolts who have been left out of historical record. Dr. Hall pieces together the likely stories of these women – Adono, Alele, Amba, Lily, Sarah, Abigail, and others whose names she never learns – from what little records there are while also including bits from her personal experiences.

This is clearly a very deeply personal project for Dr. Hall, working through her trauma to uncover the truth. Woven within the stories of these women are pieces from Hall’s own life, including the gatekeeping of archives she attempted to access, and her frustration at how little information was available. Hall praying to her grandmother for the strength to continue is heartbreaking. It’s also no surprise that the people who stood the way of her research were all White – even security guards wouldn’t even let her through.

There is a very clear parallel between the slave traders of the Middle Passage and white male historians, which is that none of them believed women were capable of organizing and leading revolts. Black women have always been at the forefront of racial justice movements – that’s an undeniable fact, even if so many of their names and impacts are not as widely taught and celebrated as they should be. Dr. Hall’s efforts to honor these women and to uplift their stories, especially considering the challenges she faced to even access these records, must continue to ensure these important stories don’t get left behind.

“The more women onboard a slave ship, the more likely a revolt would occur.”

“Wake” will be out June 1st 2021. Thank you to @netgalley and @simonandschuster for the e-ARC of this book!

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