Monday, September 23, 2019

On the Coffee Table: March Book Three

Title: March: Book Three
Writers: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Artist: Nate Powell
Image result for march 3 john lewis
via Goodreads
Book Three of John Lewis's March series opens in 1963 with the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a white supremacist terrorist attack that killed Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Carol Denise McNair (11).  The murders were a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, contributing to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The third book is the most intensely political of the three books, both inside and outside the movement.  (Please read my reflections on Book One and Book Two.)  While there had always been some tension between the major groups, Lewis even admits to the mistrust of him within his own organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  After Kennedy's assassination, no one within the movement was quite sure what to expect from his Presidential successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson who had supported segregation in his time as a US Senator from Texas, a southern, Jim Crow state. 

Another thing I have learned more about from Congressman Lewis's books: the inspiration many American civil rights leaders took from similar, simultaneous efforts in Africa, most of that continent finally emerging from colonial rule.  Singer Harry Belafonte invited Lewis and other SNCC delegates along with him on a trip to Africa in, I believe, 1964.  It was the first visit for Lewis.  On that trip, Lewis ran into Malcolm X.  In fact, Lewis identifies it as the last time he saw Malcolm alive.  Malcolm X - just as polarizing a figure within the Civil Rights Movement as outside it - turns up a few times in the series but he definitely features most prominently in this last book. 

Included also, of course, is the march for which the series is named: not the March on Washington but the one from Selma to Washington in 1965, a story also told in the 2014 film Selma (read reflection here).

Overall, the series is outstanding, residing comfortably on the graphic novel Must Read shelf alongside Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis (read here) and Art Spiegelman's Maus.  Forced to pick a favorite, I'd choose Book Two but truly, one should read all three.  The best books inspire me to read other books and I have already added several Movement histories to my wish list.  Lewis also has a sequel series in the works entitled Run.

12 comments:

  1. Okay, well, maybe I'll get to these at some point. I don't know.
    I haven't done graphic novels in a long time, and I worry it would send back down a comic book rabbit hole.

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    1. Yeah, but I lived down that rabbit hole for... a long time.
      And, right now, I'm trying to get rid of my comics, not add to them.

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  2. Graphic novels kinda revived our interest in such. Neil Gaiman caught us.

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    1. Which of his books do you like?

      He's hit or miss for me. Graveyard Book is probably my favorite.

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  3. good book to know the history of civil right movement.

    I took class of American history, I would be better to read this kind of book to understand American history.

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    1. To be honest, more Americans should. If you're genuinely keen to learn more, I highly recommend The Autobiography of Malcolm X in addition to this series.

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  4. The more I learn, the more it seems to me that the battle to overcome the shackles of prejudice is the central drama in American history. What happened in the South in the '60s was one of the few times in history that genuine good confronted genuine evil. All Americans should be more aware of it. And "Selma" is a fantastic film.

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    1. Well said, BrightenedBoy. The story of America is the story of race, no doubt. I think it's important to note that racism runs deeper than mere prejudice. Prejudice is personal. Racism is institutional. The one feeds the other, of course, but the distinction is important.

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  5. I love graphic novels! This sounds like another great book and one that we would all benefit from reading. I have marked this trilogy down to look for. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jes

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