- Craig Graziano
March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.
Through the medium of comics, Lewis explains the details of nonviolence and civil disobedience in an accessible manner, highlighting sit-in strategies that would help to erode institutionalized racism at lunch counters and other businesses.
Participants would train each other in handling verbal and physical abuse with grace, hoping to emphasize their humanity. Through demonstration and legal pursuits, activists brought the struggle to the forefront of national attention.
As with any book about the Civil Rights struggle, Lewis' story contains derogatory and objectionable language. Including that is an absolute must in order to accurately portray exactly what these brave men and women were up against.
Lewis' decision to use the graphic form for his biography was inspired by the comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, published in 1957 by The Fellowship of Reconciliation. That book encouraged many young Americans to take stands for their beliefs. With any luck, Congressman Lewis' book will help people today do the same.