Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Nonfiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, John Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole). March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.”
Review: Another graphic novel! And a graphical memoir at that. March: Book One takes the reader into the early life and childhood of Civil Rights icon, John Lewis. As someone who only knew the bare bones of John Lewis’ story before reading March: Book One, it was fascinating to learn about his early activism, and how certain choice events led to his pivotal first meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. Nate Powell’s illustrations are gorgeous (although I would really like to read a graphic novel with color illustrations for a change), and there was enough text to stay engaged with the story while also enjoying the images.
I was very pleased to learn that March: Book One has been incorporated into many school curricula as an addition (and sometimes alternative) to more traditional literature on the Civil Rights Movement. The graphic novel format is likely a nice break for middle school and high school students, while the content still provides an illuminating look at what it was like to experience the Civil Rights Movement firsthand. I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy, and would recommend the March series to anyone interested in learning more about the historic life of John Lewis.