I talked about this graphic novel series everywhere else on social media and in person, I can’t believe I didn’t share it here! I was so surprised and embarrassed that I forgot to include it on this page. MARCH is a powerful graphic novel trilogy by civil rights leader and Georgia Senator, John Lewis. Lewis shares his story and his involvement with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) from training for nonviolent protests to integrating public spaces with sit-ins, to the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma march, and the push to register black voters in the south.
The series is autobiographical, and reminds and educates readers about the fight and struggle to obtain not only equal rights, but a seat at the table. As a primary source, the emotion and experience of the civil rights movement captured in this series is immediate and powerful. The hatred experienced and loss shared in MARCH is a harsh reminder of the physical and murderous assaults that were met with nonviolence and peaceful protests.
The images, line work, and cartooning by Nate Powell are absolutely wonderful. The graphics are powerful, and add to the emotion and tone of this necessary story. Graphic novels and comics are excellent resources for readers, and that this story is told in this medium means that MARCH can and will find an even wider audience than a traditional autobiography.
There’s a beautiful thread throughout each book that jumps forward to the inauguration of former President Barack Obama— juxtaposing the legacy of John Lewis and the civil rights movement with Barack Obama’s presidency, a symbol of hope and healing for a nation with such an abusive racial past.
In the current political climate, and the many reports of emboldened discrimination, the rise of white supremacy, and local terrorism, MARCH is a heartbreaking reminder of the discipline and dedication needed for nonviolence resistance. John Lewis’ life work is an example of the perseverance and sacrifice necessary to fight and demand equality for the continually oppressed.
You can find a copy at your local bookstore, Powell’s, and your local library.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is a wonderful book to teach children about the Civil Rights Movement and the work of young African American students as they fought against the injustice of segregation. The illustrations are vibrant and energetic, filled with the hope and energy of the students standing up for their rights by sitting down.
I was able to hear Andrea Davis Pinkney speak about picture books earlier this month, and she talked about how she presents this book to the young students she visits. Asking them to raise their hand if they’ve ever been to a restaurant, and asking again if they’ve ever been to a restaurant but were refused service, and then the hands drop.
How might that make you feel?
What would you do?
Sit-In is filled with beautiful language and rhythm, the oft repeated refrain, “their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.” Andrea Davis Pinkney does a wonderful job of including the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the text, as well as the work of Elle Baker in developing SNCC, that help illustrate different parts of the movement working together. We are not given a book just with Dr. King, Jr.’s words, but a book that incorporates his words and how they helped shape a call to action.
A civil rights timeline and additional information about the sit-ins is included as well as a bibliography. A great poetic book to share with young readers and begin a conversation about the civil rights movement, the importance of integration, and how this world is a better place when we’re treated equally.
“Their order was simple: A double dose of peace, with nonviolence on top. Hold the hate. Leave off the injustice.”
Find it at your local independent bookstore, Powell’s, or your local library.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, published in 2010 by Little, Brown and Company, Hatchett Book Group
Ages: 6 and up
Grades: 1 and up