Book Title: March: Book Two
Authors: US Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin (authors), Nate Powell (illustrator)
Style: Graphic Novel
Target Audience: YA
Genres: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Modern History
Page Count: 192
Reading time: 1.5 hours
Date Finished: 2/23/17
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In a word: Inspiring.
My full impressions: Coming off the heels of the excellent March: Book One, I didn’t think the bar needed to be raised. But this second volume is far more emotional. The narrative is tighter, the events are far more dramatic, and the moments that define the story are far more challenging.
The story focuses primarily on John Lewis’s transition from a student activist to a member of the “Big Six,” the activists who ultimately were recognized as leaders of the civil rights movement for black equality and who were also each invited to speak at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This volume focuses quite a bit on the story of the Freedom Riders (which is in itself a tremendous account), but it culminates in an illustrated dramatization of John Lewis’s 1963 speech, which is every bit as powerful and interesting as Martin Luther King’s famous speech from the same day (which built on the emotion and passion of the speakers who preceded Dr. King), but which also ties together the events of Lewis’s experiences.
The artwork is just as good as Volume 1’s, and the black and white illustrations really fit the dark tone of the ugliness the movement faced during that era. This is not a book that’s afraid to portray how white people really acted and felt towards those black citizens fighting for equality, and as someone who was an occasional Ferguson protester and a major supporter of that movement a few years ago, I was reminded that many of the talking points we heard in the wake of Michael Brown’s death were exactly the sort of things that were said following Emmett Till‘s death and the violence against the Freedom Riders.
March is a great series, and I hope it’s required reading in many high school classrooms. It is accessible, it’s based on a true account of someone who saw these events firsthand, and it doesn’t pull any punches. I am excited to read the third volume, which focuses on the events of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, the Freedom Summer murders and the Selma to Montgomery marches, which are referenced in Book One.