March, Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell (2013)
In 1958 a ten-cent comic book titles Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story was published by the pacifist group Fellowship of Reconciliation. It helped explain the role of non-violence and of passive resistance as a pathway to achieving civil rights. Now, 65 years later and on the fiftieth year following the historic march on Washington, comes this very personal and, at the same time, very universal graphic novel by one of the leaders of that movement.
A year after the appearance of that ten-cent comic book, student John Lewis helped organize sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters, which led to further involvement in the struggle for civil rights. He was beaten many times and arrested over 40 times. He was one of the organizers of the March on Washington. He headed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He organized voter registration drives. He led, along with Hosea Williams, the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, in which the marchers were attacked by state troopers; the news reports of that act helped speed the passage of the Voting Rights Act. He has tirelessly acted on behalf of minorities and the underprivileged in this country and, for the past 26 years had been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His sense of decency, his moral conviction, and his belief that every person, no matter their station, has an innate dignity and worth has made him a true American hero.
March is Lewis' biography. Book One covers his childhood through the Nashville boycott and the founding of SNCC. In vivid detail it describes the social conditions and inequalities that existed during Lewis' youth, events that happened long before many today were born -- events to some that are dusty half-remembered, if remembered at all.
The fight for human dignity is an on-going one and we all are morally obliged to continue it. This book and its sequels, when they arrive, are a good reminder of that.