The March trilogy, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, + Nate Powell = 5/5

Split across three volumes, The March is the illustrated autobiography of now-Congressman John Lewis and his experiences as a leader of the US Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. Interspersed throughout the narrative are more recent recollections of his thoughts and feelings while attending President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in January 2009.

Lewis’s memoir recounts the difficulties of managing large crowds of fellow black and white activists and maintaining nonviolent resistance and peaceful protest in the face of white police brutality, fear of death, bombings, and extreme racism in the Deep South. There were many deaths, and there were many, many beatings. The narrative is well-designed, providing readers breaks with clips of Obama’s Inauguration without glossing over the recurring political and social obstacles the Civil Rights movement faced.

This was the first time I’d read The March, and it’s another graphic novel I’d recommend for high school classrooms– the narrative style is engaging, and the art is visually engaging without being overwhelming or too minimalist. There’s enough forward movement in the narrative, too, keeping the story moving at slower points where it had the potential to get very dry (but didn’t). When I finished, I thought, “I need to buy this to reread later,” and then remembered that I was reading my husband’s set. 🙂

TL;DR: John Lewis’s first-hand account described in The March underscores the effectiveness of peaceful, non-violent resistance in the face of incredible odds and hostility–even if it’s not the fastest method of attracting attention, it can bring the plight of marginalized populations to the public eye and effect significant, lasting changes.

Review originally written 15 June 2017

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