Illustrated by Nate Powell
The final book in this trilogy picks up with events early in 1963 when a church in Birmingham was bombed, and four young girls were killed. John Lewis and SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and other Civil Rights groups came together after that bombing to try to get more representation on a state and national level since their local politicians were going to continue to turn a blind eye to violence. They organized into the Freedom Democratic Party and tried to take part in the Democratic National Convention, but drew the ire of LBJ in his re-election campaign. Larger demonstrations were necessary as violence mounted and became more blatant. Lewis and his fellows conceived of a march from Selma, Alabama, to the capital in Montgomery, an event that is now referred to as "Bloody Sunday" because of how badly law enforcement officers beat demonstrators. After that terrible day, another march was planned with Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr., and this time, they were successful in reaching Montgomery. The finale ties together Lewis and Aydin discussing commemorating all the important work of Lewis' life into a comicbook.
While some of the demonstrations in the previous two volumes were definitely part of my Civil Rights education, there is not an event that sticks out in my head so much as "Bloody Sunday." The news footage from that day horrified a nation in 1965, and it is some of the most powerful footage I ever saw in my school years. This volume is a little longer than the other two, but it also contains some of the most powerful moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Lewis and Aydin continue to not pull their punches - they depict the infighting between the Civil Rights groups, the dysfunction of SNCC towards the end of Lewis' time as chairperson, and continue to point out when grandstanding happened - but this honesty in portraying historical moments and people make the narrative powerful.
Powell obviously referenced lots of source material as he recreated scenes from video footage and photographs. His accuracy is certainly appreciated. However, having those depictions of real life doesn't diminish his artistry. His black-and-white illustrations are fluid and beautiful, albeit heartbreaking. Powell also doesn't pull his punches. In this volume, all the inhuman treatment received at the hands of white supremacists is laid bare on the page, including depicting several of those who lost their lives in this fight for freedom.
This is an increasingly important trilogy as voting rights has become a central dialogue once again in America, and as history fades from hearts and minds. We must never forget how hard some people had to fight so that the rest of us can exercise the rights we have.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 8-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vol 1, vol 2
Publisher: Top Shelf
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
ISBN: 9781603094023 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Graphic Nonfiction, Memoir, History, Race Relations, Top Shelf
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
Search this site
Ratings, Audience, and Subject Tags