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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Celebrate Civil Rights Milestones

Summer offers a chance to reflect on key anniversaries of the Civil Rights Movement. July 2 is the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, August 2 marks the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and August 28 marks the anniversary of the March on Washington, the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Discover more about the inspiring figures behind the Movement in the highly engaging March trilogy by Congressman John Lewis with co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell. The March trilogy is also an excellent introduction to the graphic memoir format.


 
 

March: Book One starts with Congressman John Lewis preparing to attend Obama's Inauguration and then flashes back to his boyhood growing up on a farm in Alabama where it was his job to tend the chickens. He took this responsibility so seriously he was unable to eat his own chickens because he knew them so well. As Lewis grew, his ambition to become a pastor eventually merged into an awareness about the need to advocate for civil rights. This book ends with his first forays into activism as a college student in the movement to desegregate lunch counters.

March: Book Two continues John Lewis' story from his involvement with the Freedom Riders to the March on Washington. Many famous men make cameos, including President Kennedy, Malcolm X and MLK. The reader begins to realize the Civil Rights Movement was meticulously crafted; little happened by chance or momentary inspiration. It's an inspiring example of how visionaries and regular people with courage banded together to create change.

March: Book Three begins with the church bombing in Selma, Alabama, that killed four young girls and ends with the famous March from Selma to Montgomery. President Johnson, MLK and Malcolm X make appearances, as well as Fannie Lou Hamer and some other key figures who were instrumental to the movement but are less widely recognized. Artist Nate Powell brings majestic scope to the imagery, belying the scale of the page.

The March trilogy is a compelling read for anyone over the age of twelve, and even some mature tweens may be ready for its message. Like the best graphic novels, this trilogy combines visual and textual storytelling in a manner that is uniquely moving and engrossing.

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Library

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