The word Icon has been thrown around so much lately it has lost meaning. In the case of John Lewis it may be an understatement. There are people in the history of America who deserve to be lionized and have their stories told for decades and centuries to come. John Lewis has been one of them since he was young, but kept up his incredible work and advocacy for further decades. Lewis’ experiences as part of the civil rights movement have been chronicled in the March trilogy graphic novels – on which he collaborated with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell. March: Book One was first published in 2013, followed by Book Two in 2015. In 2016, March: Book Three became the first-ever graphic novel to win the National Book Award.
Seriously, if you haven’t read these put them on hold at your local library or order them through your local bookseller. This whole series is brilliant and moving and, at times, really hard to read. John Lewis’ story, told in graphic form, is more effective than any textbook account of that period ever could be. Here, it is visceral. It is urgent. It is powerful and deeply affecting. THIS SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING IN SCHOOL.
March reads like a superhero story, because it IS one. March Books 1-3 are different from anything I have ever read about civil rights, racism and the politics of this country. The writing is direct but subtle, honest but lacking egoism. John Lewis put his life on the line on several occasions and embodied the mantra of not backing down to the power structure-segregation politics and the cops in the Jim Crow South.
This is a story, which gives one true lesson to any society; that to achieve deep-seated social change it takes a lot of perseverance and passion from those who are striving for the change. The narrative & the graphics in March have a certain amount of magnetic power, which will rivet the attention of the reader right on to the epic that unfolds with in its pages. Change is never pretty or neat or easy. Teaching the history of our country, the things we’ve done to each other, the lives we took, the land we stole, the rights we tried/try? to take away, isn’t easy either. But both are necessary for our survival.
There aren’t enough words to honor the life this man lived.
Wherever you are, John Lewis, please know that there are Americans who are grateful for you, for your tireless fight for justice, equality, and the sanctity of human dignity in the face of a society who has robbed too many of each. Your work as a civil rights leader, as a representative of the people, and as a man in general is an inspiration to each American — all any of us has to do is choose to take that inspiration, do the best they can with it, and learn to treat their fellow man as an equal. Your story is embedded in the best of what America has always aspired to be – and that aspiration is needed (now more than ever) if we hope to march forward towards a peaceful future.