March, Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
One of my favorite mentors from my MA program has done a lot of research on graphic novels and comics. I always appreciate her recommendations for new things to read, especially if I can then pass on the books to my students. When she began posting stuff about Nate Powell and his work on the March trilogy, I was intrigued. I had definitely heard of John Lewis, and he’s come back into prominent public attention with the House Democrats’ sit-in this last summer (#nobillnobreak). But I never realized to what extent he had been involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. This graphic memoir, therefore, brings us back in time to the history of Civil Rights as seen by less-famous members more directly involved in the movement.
In Book One, John Lewis brings us to his childhood in Georgia, his desire to do something with his life, and his college education, where he becomes part of an activist movement. Interpolated with this march back into the past is the present moment—2009—where he is to appear at President Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States. This movement back and forward in time shows us how much has changed, but how some things remain the same.
Book One ends on a bit of a suspenseful note, and because it’s a three-part series, don’t hesitate to read them all at once. I thought the black-and-white drawings were beautifully rendered and captured Lewis’s life proficiently. This is a great blend of history, memoir, and graphic novel, so if you like any of these three individually, you will probably enjoy this as much as I did. I’ll reserve more for discussion of Books Two and Three in my individual reviews.