March, by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated and lettered by Nate Powell
By Diane Schroeder
The March trilogy is an autobiography told through the perspective of civil rights leader and US Congressman John Lewis. The series, written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and illustrated and lettered by Nate Powell, tells the story of Lewis’ life and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Book One spans Lewis’s early life. Growing up on a farm in rural Alabama, the young Lewis dreamed of becoming a preacher. He wanted to learn and loved going to school and he eventually was able to go to college. While in college, he helped create the Students’ Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
The series is also framed by Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, and serves as a memoir about the generation of heroes who faced danger head-on and stood up to the social injustices with brave acts of civil disobedience by non-violent protests and marches.
The drawings in the book are effective in conveying racism and the politics of the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. The scenes where there are crowds, protests, and violence the pictures bring a vivid sense of movement and drama. The graphic-novel format helps the reader see the events as they played out in the past. The black-and-white images are powerful tools that enhance the reader’s experience. The illustrations give the reader an emotional visual aspect of some of the iconic figures who played a vital role in bringing basic civil and human rights policies into the American social system.
It has been fifty-five years since The Civil Rights Movement, and the graphic novel series of Marchis still relevant today. Given the subject matter of these graphic novels, there is violence in them. I highly recommend this trilogy for young-adult and older readers.