March, by Rep. John Lewis

In honor of Black History month, Reader's Review is reposting March, the graphic novel written by civil rights pioneer and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

Reviewed by Tracy Troxel

Even as a kid, I never found comic books or graphic novels to be particularly appealing. But when my daughter gave me the March Trilogy Series by John Lewis for my birthday this year, I couldn’t stop reading.

March, a black-and white, graphic novel described by book reviewers as a “memoir trilogy,” is the riveting account told in three books about the Civil Rights activist and U.S. Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga), and his work to fight injustice using non-violent methods of protest. Here are just four of several good reasons to read this series, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions 2013, 2017):

  1. The graphic novel format of March enables the story of John Lewis’s life to be told in a compelling way, which makes it accessible for anyone over the age of 12. March has won four prestigious book awards, became the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. 
  2. It is vitally important for all of us to own our shared history as Americans.  That history is not pretty, but sharing our history is a crucial step in becoming real communities of people who can understand and relate to one another in healthy ways.
  3. March encapsulates the history of the Civil Rights Movement through the retelling of one man’s story, John Lewis.  This personalizes history so that it comes alive.  John Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers who has served in the U.S. Congress since 1987, was present at many of the key events of the Civil Rights Movement:  Selma, the March on Washington, the desegregation efforts in Nashville, etc.
  4. The commitment to non-violent protest to see injustices exposed and righted will remind the Christian reader of the Gospel.  John Lewis suffered unjustly, but took the suffering without retaliating against his oppressors.  He was so badly beaten during the protest march on Selma that he thought he saw death. Lewis’s firsthand experiences force the reader to think about our response to injustice in the world around us and how we should respond. 

Lewis’s life will push you to think soberly and engage in profound personal reflection. I strongly recommend this book a “must-read” for you and your family before the end of the summer. Since I have been working on the Koinonia Team at Stone Hill, my daughter, who’s 29 and works for “Little Lights,” a non-profit in Washington, D.C. that focus on literacy and racial reconciliation, have shared books, YouTube clips, papers, etc. It has been a wonderful sharpening of one another over the past three years.  I think she’s about my growth in these areas—it’s always fun to surprise your kids!

To learn more about the book:

The source of John Lewis’s inspiration for March.

A November 2017 interview on YouTube with John Lewis, his co-author and illustrator.

U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Ga). 

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