March: Book One
Opening on the morning of President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, Rep. John Lewis’s memoir, MARCH, is a powerful recollection of a man’s life growing up in a changing world.
The son of a sharecropper, Lewis grew up raising chickens, a time that still affects him powerfully. (As a boy, he even preached the Bible to his captive chicken audience.) He even keeps a collection of chicken statues in his Washington, D.C., office. It’s clear that Lewis never forgets the past from which he came.
"MARCH is a wonderful recounting of a horrible time in American history. Its beauty as a graphic novel stands in sharp contrast to the sad nature of its contents, but that too makes the book all the more remarkable."
It’s a heartbreaking past. MARCH is a tribute to the courage of those who fought, spoke out, marched, and sat down in the front of the bus at a time when virtually any act could lead to arrest…or far worse. Seeing just how painful and awful it all was makes it all the more poignant when Jim Lawson tells Lewis, in 1958, “Do not let them shake your faith in nonviolence --- love them!”
Lewis and co-writer Andrew Aydin (who works for Lewis handling telecommunications and technology policy) frame the book as a conversation that Lewis is having with a mother and her two sons, who have shown up at his D.C. office. Their questions lead into Lewis’s narrative and give him ample opportunity to recollect his life story, from childhood on to first meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and getting involved with the nonviolent movement. The art, from Nate Powell, is stunning and some of the best of Powell’s career. He evokes a mood that is reverent and powerful and perfectly suited for Lewis’s gentle retelling.
MARCH is a wonderful recounting of a horrible time in American history. Its beauty as a graphic novel stands in sharp contrast to the sad nature of its contents, but that too makes the book all the more remarkable.
Reviewed by John Hogan on October 1, 2013