When I began writing Marcus and the Amazons, I never dreamt that I would live in a time when I would witness the confluence of a movement such as Occupy Wall Street and the revival of interest in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose role in the Civil Rights Movement has always been an inspiration for me.
One of the most common ways of telling the story of the African-American Civil Rights Movement is to invoke the name of Dr. King. While the intent is noble, the narrative of the movement is simplified, and in many children's books, young readers are confronted with a monolithic figure who does not engage their imagination, nor their "moral intelligence."
Marcus and the Amazons avoids that. On the surface, Marcus and the Amazons is the story about a courageous ant who saves his colony from an evil tyrant. But Marcus and the Amazons is more than that. This multilayered story, which explores themes of freedom and non-violence, dramatizes the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, which are eloquently stated in “Letter From Birmingham Jail”:
Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
Indeed, when I wrote the chapter "Jailed!" I had a pen in one hand and a copy of “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in the other.
By placing the struggle for equal rights in a different context, Marcus and the Amazons allows a young reader to set aside her prejudices and to examine the values that Dr. King dramatized in the historic March on Washington.
Because Marcus Formica, the hero of Marcus and the Amazons, is a less imposing figure than Dr. King, young readers will experience the internal and external conflicts in a new way and gain a better understanding about this important era in American history.
I can only hope.
Marcus and the Amazons is available from Amazon.com as an E-book:
Or in print: