Last Updated on July 9, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337
March is a set of three graphic memoirs by US Representative John Lewis and comic writers Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. While the books are intended for a young adult demographic, older readers are also moved by their message and the engaging presentation. The graphic storytelling format combines Powell's visuals with text by Lewis and Aydin. The volumes, published 2013–2016, have received accolades for multiple dimensions: March: Book Two received the Comic-Con Eisner Award, while March: Book Three earned the National Book Award for young people's literature.
While the books are considered memoirs, they do not focus solely on Lewis's life and considerable individual contributions to US politics and history. Rather, they situate his particular story within the larger context of social change, civil rights advances, and political activism during which he came of age and began his journey into public service.
The particular march referenced in the title, which begins and ends the trilogy, is the March 7, 1965, march across Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The peaceful march was catapulted into international fame when police and state troopers attacked the marchers; among them was the 25-year-old Lewis. Using one well-known event to bracket many other and often less well-known incidents from the civil rights movement effectively opens and closes the historical overview that the authors provide. For Lewis, suffering a serious beating was a trial-by-fire ordeal that cemented his commitment to this struggle.
Lewis discusses his childhood and formative years in segregated Georgia, recounting the influence of family and church on his decision to get involved in activism and then public service. His tenure as director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) played a significant role in shaping his attitudes and developing his skills in formulating policy and then putting it into practice. The more typically stressed aspects of civil rights activism, especially the leadership of Dr. King, play a role in Lewis's story. The multifaceted contributions of others and disagreements among sectors of the movement are also presented, providing a rich, complex view of turbulent times.
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