Rating: 5/5 – A moving personal history of the birth of the civil rights movement
This is Book One of a multiple volume recounting by Congressman John Lewis of both his life and the history of the civil rights movement in America. Other than as an initial scene on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we don’t get to the actual “March” in Book One, but that’s completely OK, what we do get is an extremely moving personal account of John Lewis’ life and the beginnings of the fight for equal treatment of black Americans. Buy this book! http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/march/760
Lewis recounts his youth growing up on a farm and caring for the chickens, his love for school, learning, and the bible. While a fascinating background for the man, where the story really gets going is as he goes away to college and gets more deeply involved in the non-violent movement in the south to grant equal rights under the laws of the United States to a large portion of our citizens. This is not a part of our history that I am deeply familiar with and this book brings it to life through the lens of John Lewis’ experiences as he lived through those times and in many of the later activities was an actual part of them.
We see Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus (which I was aware of) and the subsequent boycott of buses in Mongomery by the black population that went on for more than a year that I was not. We get a first hand account of the lunch counter “sit ins” by students which was much more extensive than I had realized, and hearing about them from an insider view of someone who participated and led the efforts (even writing the guidelines of non-violence and behavior for the people participating) was eye-opening.
This is brought to life by Nate Powell’s simple yet powerful art. His choice of camera angles, use of light and dark and panel-to-panel storytelling was engaging and brought the script to life for me. I was thoroughly engaged for all 116 pages of story.
What makes this book a rarity is that it has brought a story to life of one of the most shameful chapters in American history in a very positive way. Lewis was there, he suffered under the Jim Crow laws. He was beaten and arrested more than once but he kept going, advocating non-violence instead of striking back, responding in kind to the abuses he endured. Men like Lewis, among others, are the reason the advances in civil liberties happened and I believe it has everything to do with how they went about their protests.
This is one book I think every American should read. The injustices these citizens faced and overcame mirror in some ways the injustices and unequal treatment of other minority groups even today. It would be nice if we could learn from our history so that we do not repeat it.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – firstname.lastname@example.org
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