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March: Book One Paperback – August 13, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Beginning with a dream sequence that depicts the police crackdown on the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March, this memoir then cuts to Congressman John Lewis's preparations on the day of President Obama's inauguration. Lewis provides perspective on the occasion, explaining and describing his own religious and desegregationalist origins in Alabama, his early meeting with Dr. King, and his training as a nonviolent protester. The bulk of the narrative centers around the lunch counter sit-ins in 1959 and 1960 and ends on the hopeful note of a public statement by Nashville Mayor West. The narration feels very much like a fascinating firsthand anecdote and, despite a plethora of personal details and unfamiliar names, it never drags. Even with the contemporary perspective, the events never feel like a foregone conclusion, making the stakes significant and the work important. The narration particularly emphasizes the nonviolent aspect of the movement and the labor involved in maintaining that ideal. The artwork is full of lush blacks and liquid brushstrokes and features both small period details and vast, sweeping vistas that evoke both the reality of the setting and the importance of the events. This is superb visual storytelling that establishes a convincing, definitive record of a key eyewitness to significant social change, and that leaves readers demanding the second volume.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Congressman Lewis, with Michael D’Orso’s assistance, told his story most impressively in Walking with the Wind (1998). Fortunately, it’s such a good story—a sharecropper’s son rises to eminence by prosecuting the cause of his people—that it bears retelling, especially in this graphic novel by Lewis, his aide Aydin, and Powell, one of the finest American comics artists going. After a kicker set on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 (the civil rights movement’s Bloody Sunday), the story makes January 20, 2009 (President Obama’s inauguration) a base of operations as it samples Lewis’ past via his reminiscences for two schoolboys and their mother, who’ve shown up early at his office on that milestone day for African Americans. This first of three volumes of Lewis’ story brings him from boyhood on the farm, where he doted over the chickens and dreamed of being a preacher, through high school to college, when he met nonviolent activists who showed him a means of undermining segregation—to begin with, at the department-store lunch counters of Nashville. Powell is at his dazzling best throughout, changing angle-of-regard from panel to panel while lighting each with appropriate drama. The kineticism of his art rivals that of the most exuberant DC and Marvel adventure comics—and in black-and-white only, yet! Books Two and Three may not surpass Book One, but what a grand work they’ll complete. --Ray Olson
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Top customer reviews
Currently, it is difficult to fathom what it was like to be a Black American living under the dark hateful and ominous cloud of segregation. Most young Americans of todays generation have little to no knowledge of this oppressive ideology and hierarchy of racial bias that was widely accepted as the norm. Even those Americans familiar with this period sometimes view these acts of injustice as memories that should be forgotten or no longer discussed. This is a faulty misconception in that a more thorough understanding of race relations in this country will never be fully attained unless we as a society actively confront this shameful time period in our history with compassion and respect. "March: Book One", can be used as a vehicle to bring about this understanding.
This autobiographical memoir is an emotional visual rendering of historical significance that follows Lewis' life from his very humble farming beginnings, to his college years whereby he fought for basic human rights not given Blacks due to social segregation based on racial discrimination. It also follows his present day life as a U.S. Congressman while preparing for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It provides the viewer a look into the pivotal role he played in abrogating the atrocities of segregation through measures of non-violent resistance, although he and many others were violently attacked by those intent on keeping things the same.
These events are masterly interwoven to form a very enjoyable reading/viewing experience. Lewis and Aydin's astutely written text transports the reader back to these moments; arduously unjust moments that can only be accurately written by a person who actually lived through them. Powell's mesmerizing illustrations show Lewis and a number of heroic figures as they organized marches, protests, and student sit-ins at, “White Only”, restaurants that more often times than not led to their arrests. Powell also masterfully used varying shading techniques and brush strokes that brilliantly rendered a tension filled atmosphere befitting Lewis and Aydin's accompanying text.
“March: Book One", by Lewis, Aydin, and Powell is an invaluable lesson for any society interested in achieving deep-rooted social change in the face of discrimination and segregation as based on racial biases. As a lover of American history and avid graphic novel/comic book reader with a small collection of over 3,000 titles, I found this graphic novel a joy to read and study. It is well written and beautifully illustrated. Also, the layout is easy to follow; granting those who have never read a graphic novel or comic book a perfect entry into this medium.
I, as a result, emphatically suggest you purchase this award winning graphic novel as a means of learning of the sacrifices made by this legendary living icon (Congressman Lewis) as related to his fight to attain basic civil rights and equality stripped away from Blacks by the United States Government during "The American Civil Rights Movement".
Let it be known, I do not view, “March: Book One”, as an attempt to demonize the United States Government or those individuals who participated in these now socially unacceptable acts of in humanity. I instead see it as a historical document of record that reveals the tremendous strides this country has consciously made the past sixty years or so to combat discrimination and segregation as based on racial biases. Although there is still more work to be done, it is clear that things have changed for the better.
The fact that the events within the pages of this graphic novel occur less often, give me hope that we as American's will continue to repentantly grow in this area. This will in return ensure we do not repeat the sins of our past while attempting to usher into existence a United States of America indicative of the writings of our forefathers.
My only gripe which is embarrassingly petty on my behalf has to do with the year long wait for the release of “Volume Two" of this trilogy. Most graphic novel/comic book collectors are severely impatient when it comes to obtaining the next issue of an ongoing series, a category I am admittedly a part of. I will be as I am extremely grateful to have been granted the opportunity of owning a copy of this most wonderful piece of literary genius.
In March we take a first-hand look at the struggles of the Civil Rights era. It is probably hard for some younger readers to realize that the US society was like this only the blink-of-an-eye ago. Bathrooms would be for whites only - someone who was not white would be beaten if they tried to use it. Only whites could sit to eat at lunch counters.
College students who saw how unjust this was went through rigorous training to lobby for a change in a *peaceful* manner. They practiced how to stay silent even when abused. How to wait it out. This was an absolute key to everything. Do not give in to the hate. Do not lower oneself to the level of the bigoted attacker. Practice patience and peace.
These are lessons we *all* can learn. There are still rampant injustices now. There are still racist bullies out there, clearly. The more we can all band together, stand up, and peacefully but determinedly remain strong, the more we can overcome. The more we can bring about a change.
And, as an added note, I adored the sections about him growing up with his chickens. That's what I would have been like - caring for them and burying them in little graves. It adds a human touch that really brings the story to life.
Both the Kindle (ebook) and the paperback versions of this are equally stunning.
Highly, highly recommended for all ages.