Why Congressman John Lewis’ memoir ‘March’ should be on your reading list
Congressman John Lewis’ graphic novel March: Book One, opens with a simple yet powerful dedication: “To the past and future children of the movement.”
It’s a fitting start — though the book is grounded in the past, the book is more timely now than ever.
March is a graphic memoir written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell. Through stark and evocative illustrations, book one tells the first-hand account of Congressman Lewis’ experience with the Civil Rights Movement, starting with Lewis’ rural upbringing to how Lewis helped desegregate lunch counters in Nashville through non-violent protests. As the series continues with books two and three, March continues to outline how Lewis impacted Civil Rights, leading to Lewis’ march in Selma.
But March does more than just detail history. Book one takes place on Inauguration Day 2009, when Barack Obama was sworn into office. Just as Congressman Lewis is about to join the ceremonies, he meets two young boys visiting the Cannon House office building in Washington, D.C. At the request of the boys’ mother, Lewis begins to recount his life story, explaining how far the country has progressed from Lewis’ days marching in Alabama to the election of the first black president in the history of the United States.
In this framing, March bridges the past and the present, and offers a powerful reminder that even the youngest of citizens can shape history.
Though the book was published in 2013, Lewis’ graphic memoir has been back in the national conversation after President Donald Trump tweeted that Congressman John Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”
The internet backlash to the tweet then resulted in March jumping to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list.
This week on the MashReads Podcast, we read and discuss March: Book One. Join us as we talk about graphic novels, creative storytelling, and history, as demonstrated in March.
Then, inspired by the visual storytelling in March, we chat about our favorite uses of art in literature including Superman Birthright with art by Leinil Francis Yu, the photorealistic comic art of Alex Ross, Blankets by Craig Thompson, and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
And as always we close the show with recommendations:
Aliza recommends Netflix’s new show Dear White People, a serialized version of the 2014 movie of the same title. “I binged it and it’s very, very good. I love the series, which expands on a lot of the characters and ideas in the film.”
Peter recommends a host of TV shows — “I guess television is back” — including: Better Call Saul, Fargo, Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods, Veep, Silicon Valley. He also recommends Uproxx‘s new TV podcast, TV Avalanche. “It’s nice to have Alan Sepinwall talking television to me again.”
Vicky Leta recommends the TV show Mr. Robot. “What I love is that [the show] takes something not visual like coding, and adds cinematic excellence to it.”
MJ recommends “I’m A Tinder Guy Holding A Fish And I Will Provide For You,” a humor piece from the New Yorker that narrates a guy’s Tinder photos. “I laughed so hard when I read it.”
Next week, we are discussing our MashReads book club pick of the month, Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez, with Enriquez herself. We hope you’ll join us.