March: Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell ISBN 9781603093002
Five out of five stars
This book is history in comic form, but the emphasis should be focused on the history. Essentially, it is about the early life of John Lewis, growing up on a farm in heavily segregated Alabama. He was an intelligent youth that was determined to go to school and succeed. When told he must stay home and work the farm, he would hide and then run to the bus before anyone could stop him. Like many farm children, he loved the animals he raised, but he was different in that he gave sermons to his chickens.
Segregation was largely accepted by the blacks, they were always under the threat of violence. Lewis was no exception, but when he took a trip to the northern states with his uncle and was able to shop and eat at lunch counters just like the white people, he realized that it did not have to be that way.
The Supreme Court decision of Brown vs Board of Education opened the possibility of change backed by the Federal Government. However, when change was only a trickle, Lewis and others grew determined to force the change. This is his story and it ends in May, 1960, when blacks were served for the first time at the lunch counters of department stores in Nashville, Tennessee.
Through these early years, Lewis met Martin Luther King Jr. as well as others that were active in the Civil Rights Movement. Generally, it was before the white backlash was to gather strength, although there were arrests and beatings of the protestors.
This is a great book that should be used in history courses in both high schools and colleges. It accurately and clearly describes a critical point in the history of the United States. The timeline occasionally jumps forward to the day of President Obama’s first inauguration. The book describes the historical context of the early years of the movement and the jumps forward explain the consequences.