March: Book One – John Lewis/Nate Powell (2013)

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Poking around on the interwebs, I came across this graphic novel title and seeing as I was in the mood for a little sequential art, I picked it up at the library. As this was also an autobiography of a leading Civil Rights activist and U.S. Congress person John Lewis, it also was right up my alley for the Black History Month project as well. Win-Win!

I was not familiar with John Lewis, but learned a lot about his life and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement via this graphic novel and loved reading it. And it wasn’t all about Lewis – I learned about the fledgling  civil rights movement, how and where the activity started, and who was whom in the struggle.

This GN is number one in a projected trilogy, with Book Two just published this year, I think. (I have already asked for it via inter-library loan as I am so intrigued by Lewis’ later life and activism.) Lewis was born to a sharecropper in rural Alabama, he met Martin Luther King, Jr., and was involved with the Nashville Student Movement and the burgeoning sit-in movement that was just about to spread across the country. Non-violence was the name of the game, although obviously not everyone stuck to those rules. (Understatement of the year.)

This is a serious book about a serious subject, and yet it’s palatable for even a reluctant reader and the learning is camouflaged inside the graphic illustrations and the actual story. It’s about Lewis, for sure, but it’s also about activism, about the unsung heroes who sat at the lunch counters and who wouldn’t move, about Gandhi and his non-violence philosophy, and about getting some basic rights for people who were as American as anyone who is born on this soil.

So, this was a great read for me, and, clearly, it would be a super read for anyone looking to learn more about the Civil Rights movement, about the Jim Crow years, about the 1950’s and 1960’s in the U.S., and all from the perspective of someone who was there and who lived this.

If you can’t tell, I loved this graphic novel and can’t wait for Book Two to arrive. Lewis (and his collaborator Nate Powell) are great story-tellers of his own life.

Part of JOMP’s Black History Month .

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