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“March: Book One”: History as Told by a Comic Book

Every year, One Book One San Diego, a community reading program, encourages the community to read and discuss the same book. This year, more than 80 public libraries, including PLNU’s Ryan Library, have joined together in celebrating the selection of graphic novel “March: Book One” by congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.

“I like that the graphic novel appeals to so many people. I’ve even heard from a couple people that their child picked the book up and started to read it,” said Ryan Library’s Instructional Services Librarian, Robin Lang. “You can be an academic, you can be somebody who doesn’t really read that often, you can be a kid, you can be a teenager; anyone can read it and learn from it.”

The novel starts off in 2009 on the day of President Obama’s inauguration and flashes back and forth between the past and the present. Lewis, the main character in the novel, tells a couple of young boys about his journey from childhood to a life of activism.

He walks through his days of baptizing and preaching to the chickens on his family’s farm, a skill and a passion that would carry over to the rest of his life. He details his adolescent years of sneaking off to school despite his parents’ orders to stay home and help with the farm, unable to contain his hunger for learning and education. Lewis also highlights the events in his life that would change everything: visiting the North with his uncle, preaching his first sermon at 15 years old, going to college, meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and eventually joining the nonviolence movement that helped him go down in history as a civil rights icon.

“The flashbacks in the novel allow us to go back and forth from then and now to see just how far society has come, but it’s important to understand that there is still a lot of work and a lot of people needed to do the kinds of things that were done in the book in today’s world; it’s not over,” said PLNU’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Jeffrey Carr.

“March: Book One” chronicles Lewis’ shift from a young and naïve boy itching to see change in the world to a young man who, alongside his peers, used nonviolent and peaceful protest and action to create the change he wanted to see.

“This novel details a period of time when this country was going through very deep change, an evolution. It’s important that we never forget that things happened the way they did for a reason,” said Carr. “The progress we see is the result of years of very intentional actions by a lot of people in order for us to move forward in who we are as a society.”

Lewis’ courageous activism in the era of Rosa Parks, Jim Lawson, Martin Luther King Jr. and more has earned him a place in history for generations to come. “March: Book One” allows readers to journey with Lewis, to march right alongside him, toward equality and justice for all.


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