March: A Graphic Novel Memoir

In the interest of sharing good, socially-relevant art, today I’m highlighting the March graphic novel trilogy.

March graphic novel, By John Lewis, with writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell

I first came across March while browsing at Hooked on Books, a cozy local bookstore that I was visiting for the first time. They had March volume 3 on display, and I picked it up, fascinated.

I didn’t buy it that day, but after I got home, I immediately looked it up.

Reviews were great and it had even won Eisner Award for its second volume and the National Book Award for its third.

I hemmed and hawed for a few days and finally ended up purchasing the entire box set.


That New Book Excitement

I began the series with high anticipation, saving that new book feel and smell as I opened the first volume. And as I read, I became…

…a little bored.

This graphic novel tells the story of Representative John Lewis’s life. It began with his early life in rural Alabama and was pretty text heavy, not at all like superhero comics or manga.

But I warmed up to the scenes of his early life, smiling at the boy preaching to his chickens.

And then things got real serious, real fast.

Partway through Book 1, the story took a dramatic turn. I glanced back at the author bio on John Lewis more than once, thinking, this guy really lived through all this? There’s still someone alive today who lived through the civil rights movement?

I felt a little silly. My own parents were born in the 60s, and there are plenty of people older than them still around.

I didn’t realize how far away I thought that time had been. The great figures of the Civil Rights movements we still study in school – Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X – are long gone. So to me, the events of this time felt long past too.


March Graphic Novel Today

March is a wake-up call. A reminder of our dark, not-so-distant past.

I’ve only read volumes 1 and 2 so far, but I have only the utmost awe and amazement for Representative Lewis.

The March graphic novel juxtaposes its events with the inauguration of President Obama.

Today, with Obama out of the office, and a renewed air of social activism in America, this series feels especially fitting.

After the Women’s March and continued protests against unjust policies and practices, the events of the Civil Rights Movement serve as a guide and a warning.


DO exercise your right to peacefully protest.

DON’T forget that these rights were not always guaranteed.

DO remember that you can make a change.

DON’T forget that America has done this before, and justice won.