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Civil Rights Archive



January 2017



March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Five Stars

Best for: Anyone who thinks we don’t still need the voting rights act.

In a nutshell: This is the final – and longest – of three graphic novels about the life of John Lewis. It covers the mid-60s, culminating in the march from Selma to Montgomery and the passing of the voting rights act.

Line that sticks with me: “In Mississippi that summer we suffered more than 1000 arrests, 80 beatings, 35 shootings, 35 church burnings, and 30 bombings.”

Why I chose it: Because the first two books were great and I wanted to learn more.

Review: This final book covers a lot of ground, starting with a church bombing that killed four little girls, through voter registration drives that were accompanied by murders, and a peaceful march that ended up dubbed Bloody Sunday thanks to the vicious actions of the police.

It’s a rough read, but a critical one. I learned so much in the 250 pages, including more detail on some events that I had vaguely heard about previously. For example, I knew that the 1964 Democratic National Convention was contentious, but I didn’t know any of the details. It was so impressive to read about the very deliberate attempts to get the voices of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party heard.

Reading about the people who stood in line all day, not allowed to leave to drink water or use the bathroom, only to not be allowed to register to vote – or to be ‘allowed’ but then face ridiculously complicated literacy tests – was infuriating. Then to read about the passing of the voting rights act, and the triumph it was, only to be reminded about how the Supreme Court gutted it recently, leading to voter suppression during this most recent election. It’s like 20 steps forward, 19 steps back (forty years later).

Friday is going to happen, and some people will refer to the PEOTUS as President. Anyone who finds that deplorable but isn’t as well-educated on the past as they should be (like me) would be well advised to read this series to recognize what the fight for rights can look like.



January 2017



March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Five Stars

Best for: Anyone who doesn’t know about John Lewis. Also, anyone who does. Also, judging from the latest Pajiba post, Rob Schneider. Ooof.

In a nutshell: This is the second of three graphic novels about the life of John Lewis. It covers the early 60s, focusing on the Freedom Rides and the March on Washington.

Line that sticks with me: “We found out later that [Birmingham Police Chief ‘Bull’ Connor] had promised the Ku Klux Klan fifteen minutes with the bus before he’d make any arrests.”

Why I chose it: I really enjoyed book one and wanted to read the next part of the story.

Review: After I finished this book, I took a minute to wander over to Facebook and was greeted by a whole lot of crap being posted on the Pajiba article about Rob Schneider’s ignorant statement about Congressman Lewis and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It clearly was shared in some cesspool connected to the white supremacist movement, and it brought out some of the worst our country has to offer.

After finishing this book, I have no doubt that some of these same commenters would have thrown rocks and bottles at the Freedom Riders if they had been nearby. The same ones who claim that MLK ‘won’ civil rights, and that ‘reverse’ racism is the real problem, talk as though they would have supported the fight for integration and equal rights. But I see in them the people Congressman Lewis is talking about, who beat peaceful protestors sitting at lunch counters or who scoffed at those marching on Washington D.C. I see in them the same people who were angry that Black people were trying to buy tickets to see a movie in the whites-only theater, as opposed to the people who should have been angry that a whites-only theater even existed. I think I used to buy into the idea that racism would fade away as the old racist whites died off, but the last few months have shown me – a bit late, I know – that the old racist whites are being replaced by young racist whites who are just champing at the bit to spit in the faces of people seeking the equal rights that this country is still denying to so many.

This book was harder to read than Book One, but I also think it was a bit better. In discussing the freedom rides and other actions, it really gets into the discussions and disagreement that can arise when movements have the same goal but different methods. I think it is naïve to believe that everyone who is ostensibly fighting for the same causes and outcomes will agree on how to do that, and it’s inappropriate to judge the efficacy of a movement just because not everyone agrees on how to act.