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The Day the Klan Came to Town— PW Pick: Books of the Week, August 16, 2021

Publishers Weekly – Starred Review
August 16th, 2021

The Day the Klan Came to Town

Bill Campbell and Bizhan Khodabandeh. PM, $15.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-62963-872-0

Strength in solidarity is the prevailing theme of this galvanizing graphic dramatization by Campbell (Baaaad Muthaz) of a real-life clash between residents of Carnegie, Penn., and the KKK in 1923. Cabbriele, an Italian immigrant haunted by the memory of being tormented by a lynch mob (“We done caught us a guinea instead”), joins Irish, African American, and Jewish protestors who aim to upend “Karnegie Day,” a rally of armed Klansmen supported by elements of the local government. His grinding path from Sicily to America helps form the story’s emotional core and frames how he banded together with others to organize a counterprotest, which ended in a brawl that ousted the Klan. “A man without his friends will have nothing but trouble throughout his life,” utters a white working class man to a Black comrade in this effort, neatly summing up Campbell’s theme. Khodabandeh (The Little Black Fish) supplies chilling panels of Klan members in full regalia, including an image of child pulling a miniature noose around the neck of an African American female doll. Campbell reflects in the afterword on how the anti-rally had been largely forgotten as Carnegie—his hometown—developed away from its immigrant roots. Now readers have this emotionally charged record of how hatred born in American forced a community of immigrants and marginalized people to rally and model the best version of their nation’s ideals.

Back to Bizhan Khodabandeh’s Author Page

The Day the Klan Came to Town