March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell is a graphic novel that chronicles the Civil Rights movement through the perspective of Civil Rights leader and now U.S. Congressman John Lewis. The novel begins with John Lewis waking up on the day of Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. He heads into his office on Capitol Hill, where a black mother and her two young boys from Atlanta ask to see Congressman Lewis’ office. The mother wants her children to, “learn their history,” and Lewis is surprisingly there to tell it.
For most of the first fifty pages, March: Book One depicts John Lewis’ childhood. Yet by elaborating on Lewis’ childhood, the reader learns about life in the Jim Crow South, the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Lewis’ discomfort with segregation, love for education, and propensity to protest. He begins by talking about why he loves chickens, which stems from his youth living on a farm where he named, had relationships with, and preached the Bible to chickens. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about how effective of a medium this was to tell this story. The images, short sentences, and their symbiotic nature are magically appealing. And this appeal can draw young audiences in to learn a monumental part of American history. The density and language of chapter books can be overwhelming. And films can be historically inaccurate purposely for dramatic effect. Yet Lewis combines both visuals and words, to tell a first-hand account of this time period. I am so glad I picked this book up. I want to read the entire series and read it to my little brothers. Hopefully I will one day!