March Vol 1 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Art: Nate Powell
This book is powerful. Lewis is a true American hero, and reading about his life’s work is particularly heartening in 2017. To that Lewis dedicates this book: “To the past and future children of the movement.” Because the work isn’t done.
The setup of Lewis telling stories about his life, starting in his childhood, to some young kids and their mother is a bit sentimental. Especially since it’s all happening during President Obama’s inauguration. While no doubt Lewis did reflect on his life and the journey from the Jim Crow segregated South of his youth to Obama becoming POTUS, this part is a bit cheesy. Though if this book is marketed toward children, certainly gives them a good setup in a world they are familiar with. (And sometimes the cheesy and sentimental are absolute fact.)
I loved Lewis as a young boy with his chickens, and him preaching to them every night. Plus, his affection for them where he names them, knows all their movements, and refuses to eat the ones that end up on his family’s table. I had similar — minus the preaching — experiences in my childhood with chickens, but more with rabbits. (Though I became a vegetarian.) And felt that immediate connection with his story.
In fact, much of Lewis’ later story resonated with my own life experiences about going out in the world and realizing it’s so much bigger and different than your hometown experiences; around wanting to go to learn above all with books and school as an escape; and the need and desire to make an impact around justice and doing so in college. Though I certainly know my work did not have the same nation-wide impact that Lewis’ Civil Rights work did.
I found the parts about their nonviolence training fascinating. I’d never considered what one might have to go through in order to counter reflexes. I’ve had enough unfortunate life experiences to know that if someone punches me, I punch them back. I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to do this type of protest.
The hardest parts of this book were definitely when the lunch counter sit-ins turned violent. By violent, our protesters sat there and took a beating from white racists. And this is only the start of the black church bombings. Now doubt this series will only get more intense as it goes.
March is an incredibly important book. I’m looking forward to reading volumes 2 and 3.
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