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How John Lewis' March Trilogy Can Teach Students About Civil Rights

March is a comic book-style trilogy that recounts the experiences of Congressman John Lewis in the nations struggle for civil rights. The graphics in this memoir make the text engaging for its target audience, students in grades eight-12. Teachers can use the slim paperbacks (under 150 pages) in the social studies classroom because of the content and/or in the language arts classroom as a new form in the genre of memoir.

March is the collaboration between Congressman Lewis, his Congressional staffer Andrew Aydin, and the comic book artist  Nate Powell. The project began in 2008 after Congressman Lewis described the powerful impact a 1957 comic book titled Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story had on people like himself who were engaged in the civil rights movement.

Congressman Lewis, Representative from the 5th District in Georgia, is well respected for his work for Civil Rights during the 1960s when he served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Aydin convinced Congressman Lewis that his own life story could serve as the basis for a new comic book, a graphic memoir that would highlight the major events in the struggle for Civil Rights.  Aydin worked with Lewis to develop the trilogys storyline: Lewis youth as a sharecropper’s son, his dreams of becoming a preacher, his nonviolent participation in the sit-ins at department-store lunch counters of Nashville, and in coordinating the 1963 March on Washington to end segregation.

Once Lewis agreed to coauthor the memoir, Aydin reached out to Powell, a best-selling graphic novelist who started his own career by self-publishing when he was 14 years old.

The graphic novel memoir  March: Book 1 was released  August 13, 2013. This first book in the trilogy begins with a flashback, a dream sequence that illustrates the brutality of the police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March.

The action then cuts to Congressman Lewis as he prepares to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama in