MLK Civil Rights Comic Inspires Activists in Egypt

Dalia Ziada translated the work into Arabic and Farsi and distributed 2,000 copies before Egypt's revolution.

By Hatty Lee Feb 23, 2011

Martin Luther King’s message continues to inspire activists all over the world, even in comic book form. Egyptian activists found inspiration from The Montgomery Story, a comic published in 1958 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The book dealt with Dr. King’s philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience, specifically with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It also included a how-to section called "How the Montgomery Method Works."

In 2008, Dalia Ziada, the Egypt Director of the American Islamic Congress, took on the task of translating the comic book into Arabic, and then in Farsi, through AIC’s HAMSA initiative. Ziada distributed 2,000 copies of the translated book throughout the Middle East. During the Egyptian revolution, activists used the book as motivation for their own rebellion. According to an email she sent out through AIC:

The comic book has been credited with inspiring young activists in Egypt and the larger region (we have a Farsi version as well). Last week I distributed copies in Tahrir Square. Seeing the scene in the square firsthand is amazing. Despite violent attacks and tanks in the street, young people from all walks of life are coming together, organizing food and medical care, and offering a living model of free civil society in action.

Using a visual and easily accessible form such as a comic book, Ziada told the History News Network that the main message she hopes that Arabic readers will take from the book is that: "change is not impossible. It is time to stop using our muscles blindly. Let’s try using our intellect in innovative, creative ways to pressure decision makers and end dictatorship, tyranny and the suppression practiced against us."