March Book One Essay

Summary

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon and key figure of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March , a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole ).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.

Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award -- Special Recognition
#1 Washington Post Bestseller
A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
An ALA Notable Book
One of YALSA's Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens
One of YALSA's Top 10 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
One of YALSA's Outstanding Books for the College Bound
One of Reader's Digest 's Graphic Novels Every Grown-Up Should Read
Endorsed by NYC Public Schools' "NYC Reads 365" program
Selected for first-year reading programs by Michigan State University, Marquette University, and Georgia State University
Nominated for three Will Eisner Awards
Nominated for the Glyph Award
Named one of the best books of 2013 by USA Today , The Washington Post , Publishers Weekly , Library Journal, School Library Journal , Booklist , Kirkus Reviews , The Horn Book , Paste , Slate , ComicsAlliance , Amazon, and Apple iBooks.


Author Notes

Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is co-author of the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel memoir trilogy MARCH , written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. He is also the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions including the Lincoln Medal, the John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage" Lifetime Achievement Award, and the NAACP Spingarn Medal, among many others. He lives in Atlanta, GA.

Andrew Aydin is creator and co-author of the #1 New York Times best-selling graphic memoir series, MARCH . Co-authored with Rep. Lewis and illustrated by Nate Powell, MARCH is the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award, and is a recipient of the Will Eisner Comics Industry Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition, and the Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor, among other honors. Aydin's other comics work includes writing the X-Files Annual 2016 (IDW), writing for the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2016 (Image), and writing an upcoming issue of Bitch Planet (Image).

Nate Powell is a New York Times best-selling graphic novelist born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978. He began self-publishing at age 14, and graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2000. His work includes MARCH , You Don't Say , Any Empire , Swallow Me Whole , The Silence Of Our Friends , The Year Of The Beasts , and Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero . Powell is the first and only cartoonist ever to win the National Book Award. Powell has discussed his work at the United Nations, as well as on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show and CNN.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Congressman Lewis, with Michael D'Orso's assistance, told his story most impressively in Walking with the Wind (1998). Fortunately, it's such a good story a sharecropper's son rises to eminence by prosecuting the cause of his people that it bears retelling, especially in this graphic novel by Lewis, his aide Aydin, and Powell, one of the finest American comics artists going. After a kicker set on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 (the civil rights movement's Bloody Sunday), the story makes January 20, 2009 (President Obama's inauguration) a base of operations as it samples Lewis' past via his reminiscences for two schoolboys and their mother, who've shown up early at his office on that milestone day for African Americans. This first of three volumes of Lewis' story brings him from boyhood on the farm, where he doted over the chickens and dreamed of being a preacher, through high school to college, when he met nonviolent activists who showed him a means of undermining segregation to begin with, at the department-store lunch counters of Nashville. Powell is at his dazzling best throughout, changing angle-of-regard from panel to panel while lighting each with appropriate drama. The kineticism of his art rivals that of the most exuberant DC and Marvel adventure comics and in black-and-white only, yet! Books Two and Three may not surpass Book One, but what a grand work they'll complete.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

The long-overdue move to chronicle American history in graphic novel form takes another great step forward with this first volume of a projected history of the civil rights struggle. Instead of taking an all-inclusive, Eyes on the Prize-style approach (an epic undertaking that hopefully is on another artist's to-do list), March is told from the perspective of Georgia congressman John Lewis. Listed here as coauthor with Andrew Aydin, Lewis frames his story as a flashback told to a few inquisitive visitors in his Washington office as he is getting ready to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It's an occasionally creaky device that slips sometimes into hagiography, but Lewis's tale is a resolutely dramatic one regardless. Highlighted by dark, neo-noirish art from Nate Powell (The Silence of Our Friends), March tracks Lewis from his hardscrabble childhood on a remote Georgia farm to his gradual awakening to the pernicious evil of segregation and his growing leadership role in Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent resistance movement. If the book strays too far from Lewis himself at times, that's because the momentousness of what's happening around him cannot be ignored. Superbly told history. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Comics artist Powell (The Silence of Our Friends; Swallow Me Whole) blogged that Congressman Lewis (Representative for the 5th U.S. Congressional Dist. of Georgia since 1986) "is the sole surviving member of the 'Big Six' of the Civil Rights movement, [and]...was integral in the historic marches from Selma to Montgomery, and generally helped smack institutionalized white supremacy in the nuts and changed the face of 20th century American Society." Growing up in the 1940s, Lewis rode a school bus down dirt roads because roads into "colored" communities weren't paved. Sixty years later, he was a guest of honor at Barack Obama's inauguration. Lewis's remarkable life has been skillfully translated into graphics with the assistance of writer Aydin, a staffer in Lewis's office and his capable Boswell. The art from Eisner and Ignatz Prize winner Powell is perfect for the story, ranging as it does from moody ink-wash to hand-drawn lettering. -VERDICT Segregation's insult to personhood comes across here with a visual, visceral punch. Suitable for tweens through teens and adults, this version of Lewis's life story belongs in libraries to teach readers about the heroes of America. Two more volumes are forthcoming, and a teacher's guide is available.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Beginning with a dream sequence that depicts the police crackdown on the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March, this memoir then cuts to Congressman John Lewis's preparations on the day of President Obama's inauguration. Lewis provides perspective on the occasion, explaining and describing his own religious and desegregationalist origins in Alabama, his early meeting with Dr. King, and his training as a nonviolent protester. The bulk of the narrative centers around the lunch counter sit-ins in 1959 and 1960 and ends on the hopeful note of a public statement by Nashville Mayor West. The narration feels very much like a fascinating firsthand anecdote and, despite a plethora of personal details and unfamiliar names, it never drags. Even with the contemporary perspective, the events never feel like a foregone conclusion, making the stakes significant and the work important. The narration particularly emphasizes the nonviolent aspect of the movement and the labor involved in maintaining that ideal. The artwork is full of lush blacks and liquid brushstrokes and features both small period details and vast, sweeping vistas that evoke both the reality of the setting and the importance of the events. This is superb visual storytelling that establishes a convincing, definitive record of a key eyewitness to significant social change, and that leaves readers demanding the second volume.-Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


March: Book One Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on March: Book One by Andrew Aydin , John Lewis, and Nate Powell.

Lewis, John; Aydin, Andrew. March, Book One; Top Shelf Productions, Marietta, Georgia, 2013. Kindle AZW file.

The book is presented in the form of a graphic memoir of John Lewis's life. The traditional graphic book frames depict the various aspects of Lewis's early life and his early role in the Civil Rights Movement, set against his role in 2009 as a Congressman when Barack Obama was about to be sworn in as the United States President.

Lewis grows up on a farm with conservative parents. One of his jobs is to tend the chickens. Imagining that he might grow up to be a minister, he practices preaching to the birds under his care. He feels compassion for the chickens and buries all the birds that die, including the babies. He learns to manipulate the setting hens to get the most from them, but also learns that it is possible to overextend the hens. He is always upset when the family eats one of the chickens for a special dinner.

When Lewis is a teenager, he spends time with a relative in Ohio. There, he discovers that he does not mind eating chicken when he has not played a part in raising it. He also begins to realize there are other ideas about the major issues of life.

As a youngster, Lewis is serious about his education. His family sometimes needs him to stay home and work on the farm, but Lewis often hides and manages to catch the bus to school. At the end of the day, his father scolds him but seems to know that Lewis will take the same action again the next time he has the opportunity. Lewis notices that the white children have better buses and better school facilities. When the courts rule that “separate but equal” is no longer acceptable, Lewis expects to see changes. He applies to a college that has traditionally been white, but the school officials do not respond.

Leaders in the black community, including Marin Luther King, Jr., offer to help Lewis sue the state of Alabama for admission to the college. They promise to raise the money for the lawsuit, but Lewis's family refuses to support him and he drops the idea. However, as a college student, he joins a group of protestors who begin a program aimed at forcing the local department stores to serve blacks at their lunch counters. They are beaten, arrested, and threatened, but they continue to work their program. Over the coming weeks, officials make and break promises, and make threats in the hope that the protests will stop. The protestors never waver and even manage to get a boycott on several downtown businesses that refuse to serve blacks at their lunch counters.

When someone throws dynamite into the home of Z. Alexander Looby, the attorney who represents the protestors after the first round of arrests, the protestors march on Nashville City Hall where they confront Mayor Ben West. West has a progressive outlook and, facing pressure from thousands of protestors, urges the downtown businesses to stop their segregation policies. The following day, blacks eat at the lunch counter for the first time and Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Nashville. He says the protestors have inspired him, but reminds them that they will have to be wiling to keep fighting for their rights. While blacks are being served at the lunch counters, two black men enter a small hamburger restaurant and face angry white workers, all while hearing King's words echo in their minds.

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