“Our revolt was as much against the traditional black leadership structure as it was against segregation and discrimination.”
― John Lewis, March: Book One
I wanted to add a little amendment to this review in light of recent events. It has been a difficult week, and I don't know how soon that feeling of shock will pass. As always, I've found some small comfort in the escape of good books and I had to think again about John Lewis' remarkable trilogy. Now is the best time to read books like these. I am not calling for a march or protest, despite what the title of these books might suggest. But I think there is comfort and strength to be found in reading these true stories of incredible resilience of the human spirit and the power of non-violence in the fight for tolerance and acceptance.
I just finished March Book 3, and I felt I couldn't quite write a fitting review until I had completed the series. This is my third foray into the world of the graphic novel, and judging by the books I have read (Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Maus by Art Spiegelman), it is a genre worthy of much more exploration. March Books 1-3 are different from anything I have ever read about civil rights, racism and the politics of this country. These books made me feel included in the struggle, that I was able to gain an insight I previously could not, which could be my own fault, or the fact that the classes I was taught in school on American history made a big to-do of the Civil War, but little of what came in the hundreds of years since regarding the issues of integration and equality.
Needless to say, I think it would be hugely advantageous to use these books in the classroom. The graphic novel format is such that I think students would find it more fun and accessible to read and thereby learn about real historic events. Further, there is a true relevance (sadly) in these books set 50-60 years in the past, as we see the Black Lives Matter movement and the greater awareness of racial problems in this country. When I read the end of March 3, there is a scene where Rosa Parks speaks about the need to end discrimination and police violence that gave me goosebumps, because it is shockingly STILL going on. The perpetuation of prejudice and distrust in this current election year cannot be doing this situation any favors. We all have to know this is wrong, and an awareness that it is real is the first step to trying to be a part of change.
I don't want to be too political, but books like March raise issues that are, and should be, impossible to ignore.