March, Book Two by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell
Genre: Memoir, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Publication Date: 2015
The Short Version:
Congressman John Lewis continues his story and the larger story of the Civil Rights movement in graphic memoir format.
Why I Read It:
After reading the first volume of this trilogy I immediately requested this second from the library.
From the publisher:
Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, continues his award-winning graphic novel trilogy with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, inspired by a 1950s comic book that helped prepare his own generation to join the struggle. Now, March brings the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.
After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart.
But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy… and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
As in the first volume the timeline shifts back and forth between President Obama’s first inauguration and Congressman John Lewis remembering the early years of the Civil Rights movement.
Beginning in Nashville in 1960 and ending with the 1963 bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed 4 little girls it’s a story of struggle, sacrifice and amazing courage. From the freedom riders to the March on Washington in 1963 where Lewis spoke to the crowd before Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech the courage of people trying to make monumental change happen is clear. Lewis shares both the triumphs as well as the struggles among the movement’s leaders regarding what was the best approach in both actions and words.
I was too young to remember the events of the time frame covered in this volume. I do remember related protests, marches and speeches from later in the 1960’s from seeing them on TV and hearing the adults in my life discussing them.
Clearly as the recent events in Baltimore and before that in Ferguson, Missouri demonstrate, we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality.
For me the most significant thing that I felt while reading this is a deep admiration of the courage it took for the people involved to put themselves out front and in danger.
Nate Powell’s artwork is wonderful. It’s all black and white drawings but he manages to convey the small moments as well as the huge scale of the big events.