In 1966, Bertram A. Fitzgerald began publishing an educational comic series on Black history in the hopes of inspiring students in much the same way he had been inspired by comics series like Classics Illustrated and Black writers such as Alexandre Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers, and Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet, playwright, and novelist.
Between 1966 and 1976, Fitzgerald published 16 issues of Golden Legacy that featured notable Black men and women including Harriet Tubman, Crispus Attucks, Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fitzgerald wrote and edited many of the early issues himself, and hired Black writers and artists including award winning artist Tom Feelings, writer and artist Joan Baccus Maynard, and artist Ezra Jackson to work with him on the project. Fitzgerald later asked Dr. Benjamin Quarles, Professor of History at Morgan State College, to advise on the series as well. Each 32-page issue included multiple stories of other Black figures from history, such as Walter E. Washington, the first Black Chief Executive of a major American city, Katherine G. Johnson, a trailblazing NASA mathematician, and General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., US Air Force commander of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Like the earlier comic series All-Negro Comics, published by Orrin C. Evans, Fitzgerald faced significant challenges in getting his comics printed and distributed, in particular discrimination as a Black entrepreneur. Fitzgerald later entered into partnerships with companies such as Coca-Cola and AT&T to sponsor the comic which enabled better printing and broader distribution of the comics.
Since the first issues of All-Negro Comics and Golden Legacy there have been many Black comics characters, creators, and narratives published. From Black Panther to Miles Morales, from the historic all Black publisher Milestone Comics to self-funded Kickstarter publications, Black comics are becoming more popular and visible to everyone.
Here are just a few resources to learn more about Black voices in comics:
- Unacknowledged History of Black Creators and Black Characters in Comic Books
- Darrell Goza discusses the history of black creators and characters of comic books, as well as the degree to which early African-American superheroes generally adhered to common stereotypes of black men.
- Cartoonists of Color Database
- A contemporary database to spotlight marginalized comics creators. “For visibility. For academia. For inspiration. For community building.”
- Black Comics and Graphic Novels
- A Libguide from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library that features numerous resources.
- Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture. Damian Duffy & John Jennings; foreword by Keith Knight. New York, NY: Mark Batty Publisher, c2010.
- Black Comix Returns. John Jennings, Damian Duffy. [St. Louis, Missouri] : Lion Forge, .
- Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation. Edited by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.
- Black Images in the Comics: a Visual History.Fredrik Strömberg; with a foreword by Charles Johnson. [Seattle, WA]: Fantagraphics Books, c2012.
- Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. Edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, .
- Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and their Fans. Jeffrey A. Brown. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, c2001.
- Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime. Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, .
- EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest. Qiana Whitted. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 
- Encyclopedia of Black Comics. Sheena C. Howard. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, .
- Graphic Memories of the Civil Rights Movement: Reframing History in Comics. Jorge J. Santos, Jr. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2019.
- Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books. Ken Quattro. San Diego, CA: Yoe Books, 2020
- Pioneering Cartoonists of Color. Tim Jackson. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, .
- Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes. Adilifu Nama. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2011.
- Writing Queer Women of Color: Representation and Misdirection in Contemporary Fiction and Graphic Narratives. Monalesia Earle. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers,