A vivid account of Congressman John Lewis’ human rights struggle and the greater Civil Rights movement that he was an integral part of.
The book opens with African Americans marching across a bridge and bravely facing a squad of white policeman. The story then quickly segues into modern day (2009) in which Lewis is preparing to attend President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration. He speaks to a visiting woman and her two grandsons, and through their conversation, he reminisces about his past and early days of the Civil Rights Movement. His story of growing up poor in rural Alabama and overcoming severe discrimination to attend college, which leads to him meeting a young Martin Luther King Jr, was a lesson in determination and diligence.
March would be perfect to use in a classroom to better understand the Black Civil Rights Movement for the graphic novel really brings the struggle alive to the reader. The evocative black and white illustrations make you truly see what was happening, for words can be glossed over, but the pictures make you experience it. Any text book for young readers can’t go into much detail about this era, so this book and the sequels, will add much needed dimension to a student’s understanding. The reader will get the big picture of the movements that changed American race relations for the better. Lewis and all the protesters were everyday people, who had had enough, and were true heroes for their choices. Could people today do the same?
I did have a few small quibbles though- some information given does not provide enough background. The book opens with a march across the bridge, but it is unclear that Lewis was one of the leaders, for the date and his name are not given during this scene. Plus the grandmother and boys stopping by Congressman Lewis’s office was a contrived way to make Lewis start reminiscing about his past to get the narrative going. More information is needed to complete the story, but perhaps that’s the point, to make people research more about this era and to set the stage for the next two books.
I look forward to reading Book Two and Three, and learning about the continuing saga of the Civil Rights movement, for John Lewis is truly a man to be inspired by!
* Review of March: Book Two can be found here.
*Review of March: Book Three can be found here.
Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell. March: Book One. 2013.