Book One

Graphic Novel - 2013
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Comments (41)

Apr 22, 2018

What a start and what a finish to a spectacular graphic novel.

This graphic novel really helped to adjust my perspective on the civil rights movement in America.

People were killed, people were beaten, people were permanently disabled from beatings they received. They were arrested, jailed, outed as gay in front of thousands of people. Of course I know those things to be true. I would not dispute them.

But in this graphic novel, Lewis names them, calls them his friends, his brothers, his sisters and he speaks them into my memory.

The incredible thing about this graphic novel was it once again, like the first volume, made me adjust my activism.

Too often, some racist incident will come up on my Twitter feed, on TV, on the radio and I’ll say, “Oh my god, it’s 2018. This shouldn’t be happening.” I consider racism, homophobia, sexism and ableism to all be abhorrent and try my best to unlearn all of the aggressions and micro aggressions society has taught me to employ. So when someone (or an institution) wilfully engages in racism, homophobia, sexism and ableism I am shocked.

And no it shouldn’t be happening in 2018 and it is. Racist, homophobic, sexist, patriarchal things happen because of the systems upon which they were built.

I want to adjust my activism so that it no longer dismisses someone’s lived experience by saying things like: “Oh my god, it’s 2018. This shouldn’t be happening.” Because it did happen, and it hurts. Am I still shocked that two black men were arrested for waiting in a Starbucks just the other day? Of course, but based upon the institutions that built the world in the way we currently live, I won’t be surprised.

People change their minds, their hearts, their actions, but institutions do not, or they do so slowly, with watered down legislation that does not have to be enforced.

Of course, I’m making generalisations, but the frustration I feel after reading the second volume of March is real.

This graphic novel is an example of how people of colour have consistently physically put their bodies on the line in order to gain equal rights. March book 2 has a great and a terrifying physicality. Beatings, dogs, bodies bent in prayer, water hoses from the fire department used to stop children, March never looks away, never hesitates, but continues on despite all adversity, much like Lewis himself.

Of the ten speakers at the Washington March in 1963, John Lewis is the only one still alive.

And what a beacon of justice he is for us all.

Mar 25, 2018

I figured John Lewis's choice to tell this story in a graphic novel format was just a clever gimmick—appeal to "kids these days" by chasing a trend. Having read it, the format makes perfect sense: The fight for civil rights, or any positive social change, is a long, difficult, and epic journey, and this is the origin story for one of its superheroes. It's fantastic.

Mar 08, 2018

A fantastic start to an amazing graphic novel series detailing the first-hand account of Representative John Lewis' life and his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Mar 03, 2018

This was such an emotional, thrilling read.

I thought it was a little slow to start, but it feels like a great primer to the Civil Rights Movement, with Lewis name-dropping important figures left and right. It also feels like an interesting teaching tool for middle school students.

I enjoyed the artwork -- I thought Powell's artwork was interesting and his choice of lettering really added to the mood of the overall book. I love that graphic novel artists can add details and convey without having to interrupt the flow of the story-telling.

I love Lewis' story and desperately want to read more and learn more about his life. Lewis had me question my own involvement with activism in general, and how much active participation I have in activism. How many petitions do I sign? How many sit-ins do I attend? How many times a day do I use my white privilege to better the lives of others?

I think, as a white woman, it's super important for me to always ask these questions and constantly be trying to improve, do better, be more compassionate and take more initiative.

There is light where there is darkness, and there is love where there is hatred. That love has a name, and that name is John Lewis.

AL_LESLEY Feb 08, 2018

Amazing and harrowing and inspiring. John Lewis is an admirable man and I'm glad he is around to continue his good work.

GeeksInTheLibrary Oct 17, 2017

A powerful memoir by Congressman Lewis about his experiences as a young man in the midst of the civil rights movement. Good for history buffs and budding activists.

rtalps Oct 10, 2017

A must-read. Lewis' life story is amazing and inspiring. A great perspective on Civil Rights-era America.

Aug 27, 2017

American politician John Lewis narrates the fascinating story about his life and the role that he played, along with Martin Luther King, in establishing the early American civil rights movement.

AL_LESLEY Aug 06, 2017

An important graphic novel to support and inspire the next generation of activists. Personal and beautiful.

Jun 20, 2017

March continues to move back and forth between Lewis’ life story, and Barack Obama’s inauguration. The first volume used a slightly stilted frame narrative of Lewis recounting his childhood to two boys who visit his office with their mother, who wants to teach them about the history of the civil rights movement. The second volume is purely Lewis reflecting alone on his experiences as the inauguration progresses, which works more smoothly, and also creates some interesting juxtapositions. Lewis’ election as chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee is placed alongside Obama taking the oath of office. The scenes depicting famous speeches given at the March on Washington are followed by the opening words of President Obama’s inaugural address. Aretha Franklin sings “My Country Tis of Thee” in 2009 as Freedom Riders are beaten in the streets of Alabama in 1963. This creates an effect that conveys the breadth of history, even as the closing on the church bombing creates a sobering, cautionary finish. There is always a backlash.

Full review:

JCLCourtneyS May 30, 2017

I'll readily admit to being utterly terrible at History class in school. The names and dates and battles and court decisions overwhelmed me--I wanted to remember them, and I did care about them, but I could never quite hold on to my lessons after the tests. Books like this are a gift for brains like mine. The engaging art and powerful storytelling brought the civil rights struggle to life in a way that will stick with me for a long, long time.

May 28, 2017

The graphic memoir format is particular suitable for illustrating the abuses faced by early civil rights activists, and Nate Powell powerfully captures the fear and tension in his art. The decision to illustrate the book in black and white renders these events in all their stark ugliness. The violence is not sugar-coated, but nor is it gratuitous. Notably, part of John Lewis’ introduction to the civil rights movement was the 1956 comic Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Story, which was an educational comic designed to teach the principles of non-violent resistance. March carries on in that tradition.

Full review:

forbesrachel Apr 21, 2017

Outstanding! The March trilogy provides a moving and engaging account of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a man who was there. John Lewis, now a congressman in the United States government, was one of the "big six", six individuals who played a key role in changing policy and practice regarding African-Americans. Each of these graphic novels is narrated from his perspective, and although he often refers to other persons and aspects of the movement, it is his experiences which form the core of the narrative. He begins his account from his initiation into the movement, and steadily moves through his involvement in the Freedom Rides, the march on Washington, Bloody Sunday, and more. While the facts are informative and interesting, it is John Lewis' candid discussion of his feelings, reasons, and reactions to events that really pulls us in. These parts just call out to the humanity in us all. Artist Powell walks a fine line with his dramatic black and white illustrations: he uses shadow and light to build tension and capitalize on emotional notes; without reducing people into complete caricatures, they can be "read" at a glance; and, moments of violence are brisk and don't pull their punches, but they are never especially bloody. John Lewis as a person is conveyed in both word and art. He is passionate about equal rights for all, is committed to a philosophy of nonviolence, and he is an intelligent and decent man. He tries to avoid painting any one person in black or white, pointing to a flawed system that has perpetuated the creation of flawed individuals. Even people from the movement, people with good intentions, took roads that he didn't agree with. March is not meant to be a definitive, unbiased look at the civil rights movement, but it does something that a history textbook cannot. It draws you into events past, it makes you feel the struggle, the determination, the solidarity, the need to have their rights affirmed. For that reason, and its overall excellence in quality, this should be required reading in school, and a must read for everyone else.

EvaELPL Apr 03, 2017

A phenomenal graphic novel that tells the story of John Lewis's experience as a young boy and civil rights activist in the 1960s, this is an evocative and accessible window into a relevant part of our history.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Mar 02, 2017

I loved this. It would've been a great story regardless of format and style but I think it was especially effective because of those things. Would've preferred colored illustrations but that's a minor quibble. Looking forward to reading the others in this series.

kmscows Mar 01, 2017

I am not a big graphic novel reader; however, when I read March: Book One, I was immediately drawn into the story of Congressman John Lewis' struggle for equality. The words and the illustrations team beautifully together to strike the urgency, somberness and hope of the civil rights movement. March: Book One, March: Book Two and March: Book Three are very good introductions to the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality.

JCLChrisK Feb 22, 2017

I would be surprised if most people’s first reaction to seeing a good rating for a book about the Civil Rights movement wasn’t, “Of course it gets a good rating, the book is about something important.” And it’s true, the facts of the events are significant, moving, and worth engaging for their own merit. But that’s not what the rating is about. It’s about the storytelling. Lewis and his colleagues aren’t just sharing history, they’re telling his personal story, and they give those facts flesh, blood, personality, and life. They give it perspective and emotion. They make it compelling. This is a story of human drama that is deeply affecting. I couldn’t quite read all three volumes in one sitting, but I sure wanted to. And I hope many others get the chance to try as well.

Feb 15, 2017

An important piece of history that all should be aware of. I wasn't crazy about the graphics - it is hard to tell who's who and what's going on.

AL_LAURA Feb 07, 2017

Wonderful account of the civil rights movement from Rep. John Lewis of the 5th District of Georgia and his involvement in the non-violent protests at Nashville department store lunch counters.

PimaLib_PamP Feb 07, 2017

History covered in a personal and very accessible way.

Cynthia_N Feb 04, 2017

Wow! This is how history should be taught. Very inspiring read on making the world a better place without violence. Should be required reading.

JCLBryanV Jan 23, 2017

The history recent, the heroes real, the costs many, the challenge ongoing. This is a brilliant retelling of the life Georgia Congressman John Lewis and the events leading up to his involvement in the civil rights sit-ins of the early 1960s, highlighting the personal struggles of the truly courageous people -- black and white -- who put themselves in harm's way to further the fight. Looking forward to reading the next two volumes.

Dec 09, 2016

Much detail has been packed into the March trilogy. My review is about all three books. Reading just one is like reading the third of the way through a book. It’s not a simple overview of the Civil Rights Movement and Representative John Lewis’ part in it. It is the passionate story of Lewis determination to find freedom for his segregated brothers and sisters. At times I was a little confused about what was happening, but if I studied the graphics as well as the text, it made sense. I am impressed with how the creative writing team made this book both an intimate story of Lewis and an epic story of American History. This would be a great addition to any high school study of civil rights.

Dec 09, 2016

Much detail has been packed into the March trilogy. My review is about all three books. Reading just one is like reading the third of the way through a book. It’s not a simple overview of the Civil Rights Movement and Representative John Lewis’ part in it. It is the passionate story of Lewis determination to find freedom for his segregated brothers and sisters. At times I was a little confused about what was happening, but if I studied the graphics as well as the text, it made sense. I am impressed with how the creative writing team made this book both an intimate story of Lewis and an epic story of American History. This would be a great addition to any high school study of civil rights.

Nov 13, 2016

March: Book One is a very good graphic novel about the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of U.S. Rep. John Lewis. As someone that studied African American History in college, I know all about the different grassroot organizations that we're birthed during the movement and people of various ethnicities & backgrounds risked their lives (and lost their lives too) in order for Americans to have the freedoms that we today.

While reading March: Book One, I felt sad & disgusted at what John Lewis and so many others had to go through to gain equality but by the end, I was feeling sincerely grateful. I'm looking forward to reading Books Two & Three.

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