Goodreads: March: Book One
Series: March #1
Congressman John Lewis shares his life story, beginning in book one with his youth in Alabama and his activity with the Nashville Student Movement as they protested segregation through lunch counter sit-ins.
March is a powerful book that tells the story of Congressman John Lewis’s life, beginning with his childhood in Alabama and continuing through his participation in the Nashville Student Movement. No doubt many educators will find this a useful tool to discuss civil rights in the classroom, but general readers will also find themselves by turns saddened, shocked, and inspired. The book truly makes history come alive, and reminds readers of just how tenuous civil rights can be.
Perhaps one of the more striking aspects of the book is Lewis’s willingness to engage with the nuances of the Civil Rights movement. The story makes quite clear that, just because a law has been passed, that does not mean all citizens are treated equally. Brown v. the Board of Education passed, and yet Lewis could not go downtown and be served lunch. Nor could his white friends if they were with him. And the local political leaders tried to walk the line by giving verbal support to the law while also maintaining stores had the right to serve whom they liked.
Lewis furthermore digs into the nuances of the responses given by the Black community. While he and his friends attended training workshops on peaceful protests, were arrested for trying to integrate lunch counters, and refused to pay into the system by posting bail, some Black leaders suggested that simply being arrested was to make enough of a point–they should post bail and go. Furthermore, some called for the dismissal of James Lawson from his grad school because he led lunch counter sit-ins. Lewis saw it as a division between the older and the younger generations, and their approach towards reaching equality. History is more complicated and less linear than the textbooks sometimes suggest.
So whether you’re hoping to learn more about the Civil Rights movement or simply looking for a powerful and moving read, you’re sure to find something in March. It’s just as eye-opening as I expect Lewis hoped it would be.