Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on January 20, 2017
March: Book Three
By John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; Art By Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Publication date: 8/2/2016
Anti-inaugural demonstrators at the Women’s March on Washington will be joined by protests across the United States on Saturday, including one locally in Houston.
With the lowest favorability rating in the history of inaugurations (32 percent), Donald Trump becomes president after losing the popular vote and despite media revelations of misinformation, ties and possible collusion with the Kremlin, financial conflicts of interest, intimidation of opponents, sexual harassment and capitalizing on bigotry and fear. All this with no clarity on plans to unite a divided country.
Resistance seems like the best way forward for 65,844,610 voters. Taking inspiration from the last surviving speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, I spent the inaugural morning reading the groundbreaking March trilogy by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell.
The three books in graphic novel format bring the biography of Rep. John Lewis to life for a new generation of readers. He not only survived the Freedom Rides, sit-ins and stand-ins of the Civil Rights Movement, but become part of a celebrated cabal of activists alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Jim Farmer and Whitney Young as well as Bayard Rustin.
Powell’s compelling black and white illustrations compare the upheaval and violence of the civil rights struggle with the peaceful transfer of power marking President Obama’s inauguration in January of 2009. Those on the wrong side of history are delineated with the brutality of their stance. A hero like Lewis presents the truth of his experience to readers honestly and boldly, while Aydin brilliantly ties the narrative together with the players and events that made history.
Lewis outlines his account of Bloody Sunday and the violence he endured at the hands of armed police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“Soon, Brown Chapel was filled for an impromptu mass meeting.
Hosea spoke first, trying to calm everyone’s shaken nerves.
Then it was my turn.
My head was throbbing.
I didn’t have any prepared remarks.
I just spoke from my gut.
‘I don’t know how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam. I don’t see how he can send troops to the Congo. I don’t see how we can send troops to AFRICA, and he can’t send troops to Selma, Alabama. Next time we march, we may have to keep going when we get to Montgomery. We may have to go on to Washington.’
After I said my piece, I finally agreed to go to the hospital.” p. 207
The trilogy format is in fitting with the effective use of comic books by civil rights groups to reach younger readers with their message. Comics aficionados will find March to be an interesting and dynamic read-through. Those who want to see that storied arc bend toward justice will find inspiration in the witness Lewis bears to both events on either side of history.
March: Book Three was recently declared winner of “The Walter,” an award that celebrates diversity in teen literature in memory of children’s and YA author Walter Dean Myers.
Top Shelf Productions, based in Marietta, Georgia, has published critically acclaimed and popularly beloved graphic novels since 1997. Now an imprint of IDW Publishing.
Category: Civil Rights