“To the past and future children of the movement.”
So begins Congressman John Lewis’s graphic memoir, a story that details his remarkable experiences during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
March: Book One starts off with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As Lewis prepares to attend the ceremony, he takes the reader back in time to his childhood in rural Alabama and his early years as a student. Every so often, Lewis returns us to the ongoing events of Obama’s inauguration, emphasizing the progress of time and the ongoing struggle for equality.
Congressman Lewis’ life changes forever when he and fellow students form SNCC, a student-led organization dedicated to the principles of nonviolence in the fight against segregation and racism. Following the teachings of Ghandi and the example of Dr. King in Montgomery, SNCC’s countless “sit-ins” and protests lead to the desegregation of restaurants and stores in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
March: Book Two continues Lewis’ involvement with SNCC and the “Freedom Riders” (riding to desegregate the southern bus system). Lewis later speaks at the March on Washington in 1963, right before Martin Luther King Jr. gives his legendary “I Have a Dream…” speech.
I started reading Book One of Congressman Lewis’ graphic memoir earlier this month and since then I haven’t been able to tear myself away. I finished Book Two soon after, and March: Book Three just won the National Book Award for young people’s literature (I haven’t read Book Three yet, but I’m going to assume it’s just as amazing as the other two).
I think what Congressman Lewis, Andrew Aydin (cowriter) and Nate Powell (artist) have done with these books is amazing. Instead of churning out another memoir (Lewis has two memoirs in traditional book form) they have shaped Lewis’ incredible story into a graphic journey for a whole new generation of readers. Lewis has led an unbelievable life working with organizations like SNCC, and now represents Georgia’s 5th district in the House of Representatives.
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to stand up, to speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” – John Lewis
Lewis has been arrested 45 times in his lifetime. Five of those arrests were during his service as a Congressman. Lewis says, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to stand up, to speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Lewis’s life and work (and the lives of many other Civil Rights activists) shines brightly in the words and illustrations of the March trilogy, inspiring, educating and empowering readers to make the world a better place.
Good, Necessary TroubleCheck out March: Book One
Adina enjoys cooking and eating (mostly eating), ranting about books and watching movies with her friends. You can find her working at the West End branch or relaxing in her cozy apartment.