March: Book Three is the third is a series of graphic novels that provide a vivid look at the civil rights movement in the United States. Together, this trilogy gives context to the events that you may have only heard a little bit about.
The March series focuses on the life of John Lewis, who is a United States Representative who represents Georgia’s 5th District. John Lewis is a Democrat. Before you read March: Book Three, you need to read March: Book One and March: Book Two.
The March series was written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The art was done by Nate Powell.
March: Book Three starts off with a shocking scene about the Birmingham church bombing that happened on September 15, 1963. A bomb went off before the Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This church had a predominately black congregation. It was known as a meeting place for civil rights leaders.
About 200 church members were in the building when the bomb went off. Many were attending Sunday school classes before the start of the church service.
The bodies of four girls: Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14) and Denise McNair (age 11) were found beneath the rubble in a basement restroom. Another girl, Sarah Collins (10 years old) was also in the restroom when the bomb exploded. She lost her right eye. Twenty other people were injured.
News of what happened was broadcast on the radio. John Lewis, and other members of SNCC went to the church. He traveled by greyhound bus, and others drove cars to Birmingham. John Lewis saw white people celebrating the death’s of the girls. Some of those white people were engaging in violence against black people.
As in the previous two books,March: Book Three is presented with juxtaposed scenes that are not chronological. The next part of the book shows John Lewis attending the swearing in of President Barack Obama.
This book is the biggest of the trilogy. It covers significant events that are important to know about if you want to learn about recent American history and the civil rights movement.
When I was reading this series, I was troubled by the violence that was inflicted upon people who were simply asking for equality. It frightened me how much some of the things that took place back then felt similar to things that have happened in more recent years, after President Obama’s two terms had ended.
The right to vote is a big part of what March: Book Three covers. The Freedom Vote was organized by SNCC. “The plan was to stage our own elections, with our own candidates. This would give black women and men a sense of what it was like to actually vote AND dramatize the exclusion of African-Americans from the electoral process.”
At the time, black people were actively prevented from registering to vote. One of them was Fannie Lou Hamer who was part of SNCC. In 1962, she tried to register to vote, and was denied that right. As a result, she lost her job, was arrested, and was severely beaten.
Other significant events that are covered in March: Book Three include the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas; the creation of the Mississippi Freedom and Democratic Party (MFDP) and its plan to challenge the Democratic Party’s claim to its seats at the National Democratic Convention; and the sudden disappearance of three volunteers who attended a training and set out to register black people to vote in Mississippi.
While all three parts of the March trilogy include descriptions and images of the violence that occurred, it seemed to me that Book Three had the most by far. Things were amping up as black people (and some white people) worked for equal rights, while (some) racist and angry white people felt entitled to attempt to physically harm and kill people engaged in the civil rights movement.
John Lewis was with a group of black people who peacefully lined up outside the courthouse in Selma, Alabama, and insisted on being allowed to register to vote. They were ordered to move away from the front of the courthouse and line up in the nearby alley. Sadly, this eventually resulted in violence as the demonstrators were beaten and arrested.
In the Summer of 1964, there were more than 1,000 arrests, 80 beatings, 35 shootings, 35 church burnings, and 30 bombings in Mississippi. There were some who became afraid and insisted that they needed to stop protesting and demonstration. Others insisted that they must continue.
The Democratic National Convention happened in Atlantic City in August of 1964. It was contentious, and it was televised. Fannie Lou Hamer testified about what happened to her when she (and eighteen other black people) tried to register to vote in Indianola. They had to take a test before they could register. I’m leaving a lot of details out of this book review.
She told the people at the Democratic National Convention – and those watching it on television in their homes – about the brutal beatings she and others received after being arrested for attending a voter registration workshop. Her story was graphic, and terrifying, and she made it clear the perpetrators of the violence were the white police officers who arrested them.
Part of March: Book Three includes Mr. Luther King Jr. and his speeches. John Lewis traveled to Africa and ended up meeting Malcom X, who showed concern about the danger that John Lewis and other civil rights activists were in. Not long after that meeting, John Lewis heard on the radio that Malcolm X had been assassinated.
As you may have expected, March: Book Three ends with the Selma to Montgomery march. Civil right protesters walked for three days on a 54-mile route from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. The purpose was to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by black voters, and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.
John Lewis participated in this historic march, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., members of SNCC, and others. History.com notes that the group was confronted with deadly violence from local authorities and white vigilante groups. The marchers were under protection of federalized National Guard troops.
Together, the March trilogy presents important pieces of recent American history in a graphic novel format that provides a vivid look at what happened. I found the series to be an easy read because it had artwork that showed what was going on, and also an extremely difficult read because of the violence that occurred. There is more to the story than I have written about in my reviews.
I recommend the March trilogy to those who want to learn about the civil rights movement in the United States.
This book review of March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.
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