March: Book One
NCC's Common Reading for 2015-2016
March: Book One opens in Washington D.C. on the morning of January 20, 2009, the day of President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration. It's a busy morning for many in D.C., including Congressman John Lewis, who has stopped by his office before heading to the inauguration ceremony. But when Lewis receives some unexpected visitors--a woman who has traveled from Atlanta with her young sons to witness the inauguration--he pauses to speak with his guests and show them his office, including photos of his long career as a civil rights activist.
Thus begins an important lesson in American history. The remainder of March: Book One looks back at both the first part of John Lewis's life and the civil rights movement of the 1950's and early 1960's.
We learn about Lewis's experiences as the son of Alabama sharecroppers, his early interest in the ministry, and his growing awareness of the destructiveness of segregation. We also learn about his initial involvement in the civil rights movement: his role (as a college student) in the Nashville Student Movement, sit-ins at lunch counters, the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and more.
His participation in the struggle for equal rights is inspired, in part, by pivotal events in the news--the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Rosa Parks's refusal to move to the back of a bus, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the murder of Emmett Till--as well as the wise and courageous words of Martin Luther King, Jr., whom Lewis meets as a young man. These moments are woven into the narrative, enhancing readers' understanding of this volatile but vitally important period in our history.
March: Book One is the first of a trilogy about the life and times of Congressman Lewis, a man USA Today has described as a "true American Superhero" and former President Bill Clinton has called "a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality." But it's also a testament to those whose commitment to nonviolence and equality for all remained firm despite threats, intimidation, setbacks, and violence.
And thanks to the excellent work of co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, the book--a graphic novel--has a contemporary and relevant "feel" that will resonate with readers of all ages. Whether you experienced this tumultuous period firsthand, read about it in the newspapers of the time, or studied it in school, March: Book One will inform and inspire you. It may also remind you of how much work remains to be done in America in our time.