Writers: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Artist: Nate Powell
The March series reminds me of how much I don't know about the Civil Rights Movement. I learned all about Martin Luther King, Jr. way back in elementary school, even read a biography on my own initiative. In the year's since, of course, I've learned that the King part of the story, while certainly important, is in many ways the safe, comfortable part of the story for White people, especially northern Whites. The movement predated him. That makes sense logically but I didn't know any of the names. There were organizers other than King with philosophies that conflicted with his and with each other.
And the violence was brutal. I didn't learn anything about lynchings until much later. As for the violence faced by the movement itself, it was mentioned though with far less detail than is presented in March. The buses of Freedom Riders were bombed and people died. When fire hoses were turned on peaceful marches and policemen wielded truncheons, people died. Activists were murdered in drive-by shootings. Others were maimed and crippled. National media only seemed to pay attention when the victims were White. Southern state governors did nothing to stop the violence and the federal response was also frequently underwhelming. Yes, in retrospect Jim Crow laws and the like seem absurd. But it wasn't really that long ago and racial disparity is still all too real, and not just in the South, either. If anyone doubts the genuine heroism of those involved in the movement, read these books!
I had learned much of this in the years since but the March series makes it plain: I still have a lot more to learn.
Specifically, Book Two introduced me to the Big Six: King, Lewis, James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. All were leaders of prominent civil rights organizations during the height of the movement and were instrumental in organizing 1963's March on Washington, also included in Book Two. King and Lewis were, in fact, the youngest of the six. I would now like to learn more about the other four.
I have already read Book Three. Hoping to post a review soon!