Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Booknote: March: Book Three

John Lewis,, March: Book Three. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-60309-402-3.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: history, biography, United States
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is the last volume of John Lewis' autobiographical trilogy of the Civil Rights Era. This trilogy indeed shows that you can use graphic novels to tell great and important stories. Naturally, you should read these books at any time; for me, this was a perfect way to wrap up Black History Month.

The volume's story takes us from the 1963 church bombing in Alabama to the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Many people worked hard in those years, and many were beaten and killed by White American racists, but in the end those seeking progress prevailed, at least for the moment. Because if the 2016 elections in the United States remind us of anything it is how easily Americans forget their history and how easily their inherent racism and bigotry can rise back to the surface. That makes John Lewis' trilogy very needed reading for our times.

This is a powerful and very moving graphic novel. It does not back away from presenting violence from racists upon activists, so it can make for a painful read at times. Not as painful as the pains Lewis and others suffered to make sure this nation lived up to its promises.

It is a volume that may also anger you at times because of the many political games. Lyndon B. Johnson was not exactly a civil rights crusader. He often resisted, made life difficult for the movement, and often only acted when shamed, pressured, or put against a corner so to speak:

"Johnson was backed into a corner, but he wasn't afraid of using hardball politics to fight his way out" (119).

And then there is also this:

"We later learned that President Johnson's men were using FBI wiretaps on the MFPD office, as well as Dr. King's and Bayard Rustin's hotel rooms-- to do anything in their power to influence the outcome" (119).

People got beaten and killed while he and his party worried over precious southern votes, which would lose anyhow when racists saw how the tides were turning. You not only get a riveting and very moving story; you also get a solid history lesson as well.

The story grabs you, and you just have to keep on reading. The art is great and very evocative of the times. I cannot heap enough praise on  this volume and the series. I definitely recommend this, and it is one that will definitely go in my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2017 Reading Challenges:

No comments: