Sunday, December 23, 2018

Book Review: March: Books One, Two, and Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

As expected, this trilogy of graphic novels about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s from John Lewis's POV, is powerful and important. It begins with Mr. Lewis's childhood, in a Jim Crowe-era school with lousy buses and ancient textbooks. I found it hilarious that during harvesting season, he would hide in his house in order to sneak out and go to school. The flip of the usual story there! He eventually goes to college in Nashville, gets involved in the non-violent sit-ins there, goes on several Freedom Rides, is arrested more times than I could keep up with, leads SNCC, and marches with MLK at Selma, Alabama, twice.

It's nicely portrayed in the first book as a conversation with a couple of little kids who stop by his congressional office just before Obama's inauguration. In the second book is it memories on his way to the inauguration. The third book is supposedly that as well but felt more like just a straightforward history. I didn't learn anything new in this book, having already read the exhaustive and masterful The Children by David Halberstam, in which John Lewis played a huge role. But it was nice to get the story from an insider's perspective, especially about all the arrests and beating and what inspired him to keep on, nonviolently, in the face of all that adversity. And of course, being a graphic memoir, it had a whole different element. Some elements like the beatings and the terrifying faces of hate, are better conveyed graphically than verbally.

These books are really important and I think everyone should read them. After all, given their format, they're easy to read and accessible, even for younger readers, even for not-strong readers. I read them during election week. It is important right now to remember the past, more important than ever before.

I checked these books out of the library.

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