I’d been meaning to read March for awhile now but wanted to wait until all the books were out.
I hadn’t really heard of John Lewis but boy did he earn my respect when he launched the recent sit-in for gun control. I loved that this form of nonviolent protest wasn’t new to him as we learn from this thrilling trilogy.
Book One focused on his childhood where he would preach to chickens which would lead to his interest in talking and living the social gospel. It was a time when dreams of the future seemed bright- segregation in schools deemed unconstitutional- but reality shone a harsh and brutal light on how life still was. It compelled him to make a difference by fighting (through nonviolence) against injustice (through sit-ins at diners where African Americans weren’t being served if they sat in the counters, for example) despite being abused and thrown in jail, his life (and the others lives) in constant danger.
Book Two focused on his increasing activism from being a Freedom Rider to being part of the “Big Six.” There were lots of harrowing incidents recalled here: KKK and police brutality and bombings just to name a few. And when it seemed darkest, light also began to shine through. In this case, the spotlight focused on March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. This installment also included the original draft of Lewis’s own speech.
Book Three focused on some of the darkest moments in the Civil Rights movement as the battle for “One Man, One Vote” escalates into sickening acts of evil and violence stemming from fear and hatred. But it also served as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit to defy the odds and stand strong against oppression, to march on despite the obstacles because freedom and everything it entails is not just for a select few but for all.
March is such an important set of books to read since, despite all the progress that have been made, there’s still a lot of work to be done. And we must be aware that our actions have consequences. A vote for an unfit presidential candidate will set us back. An immature non-vote or a symbolic let’s-stick-it-to-The-Man vote can lead to equally disastrous results. I hope reading John Lewis’s graphic novel memoir trilogy will be enlightening. Let it inspire a whole new audience that their voices matter.