Friday, January 27, 2017

March: Books 1, 2, & 3: Review

The series of books titled March (Books One, Two & Three) by Representative John Lewis tells the story of his early life in Alabama and the journey that took him from his parents' sharecropper farm through the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to the halls of Congress. Framing Lewis's story is the inauguration of Barack Obama, America's first African American President. It is a powerful story that is much needed in the current American climate--a reminder of where we have come from as a nation and what too many of our citizen's have had to go through, as well as providing a reason to pledge that we not go back.

Book One shows Lewis's life in rural Alabama--highlighting the groundwork for his mission of peaceful resistance. At first he felt a call to preach, but hearing about the work and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired him to use his calling to work with others for the freedom and rights of his people. We see his involvement in the beginnings of the Nashville Student movement and his participation in the lunch
counter sit-ins. We see his willingness to go to jail for the cause he believed in and his growing dedication to the cause.

Book Two continues the journey with the movement progressing from lunch counter protests to the Freedom Riders boarding buses to the deep south and the heart of racial hatred. The Freedom Riders face beatings, more imprisonment, and even a bus explosion. But their efforts are not in vain--the Riders get the attention of Martin Luther King and Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Lewis continues to move to the forefront of the group's leaders. This volume ends just after the March on Washington. Lewis has become one of the Big Six, giving his powerful speech just before King's "I Have a Dream."
Book Three follows Lewis and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee through efforts to secure voter registrations for all adults--especially in the South where black men and women are, when allowed into the courthouse to try and register, given unfair "literacy tests" to prove their ability to vote. They continue to protest and march, facing blatant injustice, legal tricks, intimidation, violence....and for some, even death. After JFK's assassination, President Johnson pushes for Congress to move on and pass the Civil Rights Bill for which Kennedy had fought. But the bill helps little when no one forces Southern states to follow through on it. Eveything pushes Lewis and his fellow activists towards the historic showdown and march from Selma to Montgomery.

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