March (Book One) by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (illustrated by Nate Powell)
paperback edition 2013
Eisner winner Powell’s dramatic black-and-white graphic art ratchets up the intensity in this autobiography of a major figure in the civil rights movement.
In this first of a trilogy, Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders and currently in his 13th term as a U.S. Representative, recalls his early years-from raising (and preaching to) chickens on an Alabama farm to meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and joining lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville in 1960. The account flashes back and forth between a conversation with two young visitors in Lewis’ congressional office just prior to Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and events five or more decades ago.
His education in nonviolence forms the central theme, and both in his frank, self-effacing accounts of rising tides of protest being met with increasingly violent responses and in Powell’s dark, cinematically angled and sequenced panels, the heroism of those who sat and marched and bore the abuse comes through with vivid, inspiring clarity.