“I Am Alfonso Jones” by Tony Medina Steps Into the Heart of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Alfonso Jones is psyched to be in his school’s Hip-hop Hamlet production. It will give him the opportunity to spend more time with his friend Danetta.

“Ophelia, I feel ya. But you don’t want to mess with me. My heart is lazy. My head is crazy. For what my moms did to my pops.”

Danetta is helping him choose a suit at the store when a security guard mistakes him holding a hanger for holding a weapon. He is shot and killed.

He awakens in a kind of purgatory, surrounded by others who have died by violence at the hands of a police officer or authority figure. They call each other ancestors. They are seeking justice and rest. The ancestors are all actual cases of people slain by police. This not only makes the impact of their stories more poignant, it also teaches readers the names, dates, and stories that fill American history.

alfonso jones

After Alfonoso becomes an ancestor, the book fluctuates from Alfonso’s new reality in the limbo world to him watching his family, friends and community’s responses to his death. It is at times inspirational, at times triumphant, at times heart-breaking.

In America, if you are black, you can run a football field, a baseball field, a track field, and a basketball court…but God forbid you should ever run from the police. Your blood’ll run from your flesh and your breath will run out of time. When an unarmed citizen – a child – is shot and killed in a rush to judgment, none of us is safe.

Illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings the illustrations are bold, expressive and packed with energy that will keep readers flipping the page to see what unexpected twist or curve lies ahead. This fresh graphic novel is a critical read for teens and older who are interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, those who don’t understand it and for all who appreciate timely graphic novels seeped in reality.

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