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An illustration of the historic battle at the Alamo from Brief History of Texas from its Earliest Settlement to Which is Appended the Constitution of the State by D. W. C. Baker, 1873.
Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons
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An illustration of the historic battle at the Alamo from Brief History of Texas from its Earliest Settlement to Which is Appended the Constitution of the State by D. W. C. Baker, 1873.

This is Nicole English coming to you from the Sociology Department at Fort Hays State University for HPPR's Book-Bytes. This is a discussion of the graphic novel, March by the author, civil rights leader, John Lewis along with Andrew Ayden and illustrator Nate Powell.

This is Nicole English coming to you from the Sociology Department at Fort Hays State University for HPPR's Book-Bytes. This is a discussion of the graphic novel, March by the author, civil rights leader, John Lewis along with Andrew Ayden and illustrator Nate Powell.

In considering this graphic novel from a sociological perspective, I am reminded of how popular media and technology can communicate ideas in society, and re-create historical narratives in educational, yet engaging methods.

If you do not know who John Lewis is, you will, by the time you read this graphic novel. The novel describes his first-hand account of growing up in Alabama, meeting Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, becoming a young, student Civil Rights activist, and eventually, marching across the bridge over the Alabama River at Selma, with Martin Luther King on Bloody Sunday, when the marchers were attacked and beaten. Committed to non-violence, the marchers continued on to Montgomery, Alabama in March of 1965.

John Lewis went on to become a well-known Congressman in 1986, until his untimely death in 2020. He was truly an American Civil Rights icon.

What strikes me as significant about the graphic novel in general is that this form of media is a different kind of experience than simply reading a book or watching a video. It is a different form of communication through both word and image. Graphic novels can convey deep narratives and complex concepts in a variety of interesting ways, which can inspire deeper thought about the issues.

My Godfather, who wrote and produced serial comic books, felt that graphic stories were an important medium for expressing emotions, stories, values, philosophical arguments, and social problems in an approachable way, for the masses. To him, historical graphic novels would have been a natural evolution from his serial comics.

We learn best through stories and narratives. That is why this personal story of John Lewis, and the Civil Rights Movement can give us insights into a particular part of history that a textbook approach might not. This form of history can engage young people into historical events, give them an awareness of social problems, and suggest what social remedies might be available.

By selecting this popular medium, I suspect John Lewis hoped to expand his audience to a broader population, as well as appeal to younger audiences, and expose them to these important social issues and reforms related to the Civil Rights Movement.

This is an inspiring read, suitable for all ages (hopefully, with family participation) and very educational... you will learn a lot from these books and in an entertaining, engaging, and effortless way.

When I was in elementary school in Texas, I recall having a textbook of Texas History that was portrayed, in great detail, in the form of a graphic novel. Not surprisingly, I remember that I always got my Texas History reading homework done and learned a great deal of the material in an enjoyable manner.

With that in mind, you will find this three-book graphic novel to be a fascinating read about the life of John Lewis and his involvement with Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, and how his background later shaped his political views as a U.S. Congressman from Georgia.

Enjoy Reading! Again, this is Nicole English from the Sociology Department at Fort Hays State University wishing you happy Book-Bytes!

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Spring Read 2022: Graphic Novels—Worth a Thousand Words 2022 Spring ReadHPPR Radio Readers Book Club
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