Let’s Talk Comics: Golden Legacy

Comic book depicting Toussaint L'Ouverture on horseback in front of soldiers and a castle.

Cover of Golden Legacy no. 1 (1966). 

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.

Comic book cover featuring an image of Harriet Tubman leading two people through a forest, alluding to the Underground Railroad.

Cover of Golden Legacy vol. 2 (1967). 

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.

 

Inside page and table of contents page of comic book issue including a letter from the editor to readers as well as images of endorsement letters for the comic book.

“THE RESPONSE!!” and a Letter from the Editor. From Golden Legacy vol. 11 (1970).

First two pages of story inside comic book feature on the life of Benjamin Bannaker

“The Story that Unfolds on the Following Pages Tell Us of Just a Few of the Great Accomplishments of Benjamin Banneker.” From Golden Legacy vol. 4 (1968). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior pages of comic book with letter from the editor Orrin C Evans and the first page of story "Ace Harlem.".

“ALL-NEGRO COMICS” / “Ace Harlem,” All Negro no. 1 (1948).

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:

Online:

Print:

 

 

 

 

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