andrew aydin, barack obama, black and white, black lives matter, civil rights, indie box, john lewis, john robert lewis, march, martin luther king jr, nate powell, racism, slavery, top shelf productions
March is a three-issue graphic novel from 2013 that autobiographically tells the story of 1960s-era civil-rights activist John Lewis, who later served as a representative for Georgia. He led one of the groups that helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Through a series of framing sequences and flashbacks, March takes the reader on a journey from an impoverished rural childhood, through times of heartbreaking violence and protest, to the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. That moment was a cultural victory for millions of Americans, and reading about it this month puts recent events into perspective.
In January 2021, we saw a different kind of march on Washington. A violent mob of white supremacists and incredibly misguided people who swear allegiance to a reality-TV demagogue and known liar stormed the capitol, claiming their racist hate was patriotism, claiming their attempt to overthrow a fair and democratic election was a defense of democracy, and leaving in their wake a trail of death and destruction in the name of so-called freedom.
March also reminds us that this despicable aspect of America is nothing new. Similar violence and even worse was rained down upon black Americans staging peaceful protests attempting to be served in restaurants, join schools, or ride a bus — and it was accompanied by the same sort of flag-waving idiocy and bible-thumping madness that too many have used to advance an agenda of racial subjugation that has nothing to do with our country’s ideals of equality nor the peaceful teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
John Lewis passed away last year, in 2020. But we are fortunate that he left us with this memoir. It is a monument to how far our country advanced in terms of equality in his lifetime and, especially in light of recent events, a reminder of just how far we have to go.
Collector’s Guide: Find the original issues of March at MyComicShop or, for less than $30, the collected edition on Amazon. Also available in digital format for Kindle.
UPDATE: Eight days after I posted this, a newspaper in Dekalb County, Georgia, reported that a memorial to John Lewis will replace a now-removed Confederate monument at the County Courthouse.
Psycho Andy said:
I’ve got to properly read March one of these days (I flipped through it a few times back when I used to work at a comic store), but thank you for this entire post.
Every single one of us are human beings, and it’s long past time we all start acting like it.
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Mars Will Send No More said:
Thank you for dropping by and commenting, Andy!
Just over a week since this post went live, a new memorial for John Lewis was approved to replace a former Confederacy monument at the courthouse for Dekalb County, GA, and The Hill reports that a statue of him has been proposed for the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall.
Like you said, we’re all human beings. I am glad to see efforts being made to honor people who struggled for equal civil rights for all humans, rather than enshrining people who advocated owning them.
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