March: Book Two continues Congressman John Lewis’s personal account of the Civil
Rights Movement, spanning the period when the movement’s nascent student wing
becomes a nationally influential force. In this volume, Lewis recounts his participation
in the landmark 1961 Freedom Rides, his leadership role in the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee, and his fiery address to the nation at the 1963 March on
Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While continuing a broad survey of the national
movement, March: Book Two also portrays the author’s development as a thinker,
leader, and strategist. Throughout, events of the 1960s are juxtaposed with the January 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, calling attention to the complex
relationships of past and present milestones of race in America.
Darker and more complex than its predecessor, March: Book Two is best suited for
high school readers, who will recognize both continuities and changes in the dynamics of
society and the methods of activism since the 1960s.
See The "FOR FURTHER READING" section below for links to teaching guides for March: Book One.
MARCH: ALREADY AN ESSENTIAL, AWARD-WINNING RESOURCE
March is a unique project that engages readers with unforgettable
imagery and first-person narration, helping to contextualize the history
of the civil rights movement and allowing readers to connect in a deeply
personal way with the story of nonviolent activism in America.
At a time when, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the
majority of states earn a D or F grade in teaching the Civil Rights
Movement to their young people, the March series has quickly become
a key resource for schools, libraries, activists, and the general reader.
It has been adopted in classrooms nationwide, spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, received
the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King Honor, been declared one of YALSA’s “Outstanding
Books for the College Bound,” and even become the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book
Award. Additionally, colleges and universities from coast to coast have embraced March with common
reading programs, compelling tens of thousands of students to read, study, and discuss Lewis’s story together.
As America continues to grapple with issues of race and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement,
March offers an unforgettable success story and a vital way forward.
A NOTE TO EDUCATORS & LIBRARIANS FROM JOHN LEWIS
When I was a young man, a comic book called Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story
was used by Jim Lawson and others to spread the word about our movement and teach the philosophy
of nonviolence. I believe comic books and graphic novels can again be a tool to educate and inspire new
generations. It has been a great joy for me to work on this graphic novel, and I hope you will find it
useful in your schools and libraries. I am truly grateful for your hard work.
COMMON CARE STATE STANDARDS
As a graphic memoir authored by a major historical figure, March offers rich opportunities
for classroom instruction. This guide specifically
calls out opportunities to align with the Common
Core’s standards for Literacy in History/Social
GRADES 9–10 (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9–10)
Cite specific textual evidence to support
analysis of primary and secondary sources,
attending to such features as the date and
origin of the information.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Determine the meaning of words and
phrases as they are used in a text, including
vocabulary describing political, social, or
economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning
and evidence in a text support the author’s
GRADES 11–12 (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11–12)
Cite specific textual evidence to support
analysis of primary and secondary sources,
connecting insights gained from specific
details to an understanding of the text as a
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source;
provide an accurate summary that makes
clear the relationships among the key
details and ideas.
Analyze in detail how a complex primary
source is structured, including how key
sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions
of the text contribute to the whole.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of
information presented in diverse formats
and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively,
as well as in words) in order to address a
question or solve a problem
Extensions addressing multi-modal literacy
experience with sequential art, single images,
and perspective can shape and inform readers’ comprehension of March: Book Two and
the historic events it depicts. Some extensions
suggested for either classroom use or in book
discussion groups are: Points of View, Music and Movement, and Comparing Primary Sources
Points of View
One of the powerful communication devices employed by sequential art is placing the
reader within an immediate context, providing the capacity to share points of view in
literal representation. While reading March:
Book Two, pause to consider how point of
view is used in these passages:
1. When John Lewis arrives for the first time in Washington, DC, he goes to the Fellowship House and is introduced to the initial members of the Freedom Ride, which he
has volunteered to join (pp. 28–33). What do we learn about the membership he joined
there at that first meeting, and about John Lewis as a new arrival?
2. What does John Lewis see as strange in the behavior of the fraternity brothers he sees on
campus when he’s enrolled as a student at Fisk University, in 1962 (p. 116)?
3. During a protest at the segregated Cairo, IL, swimming pool, in 1962, a famous photo
was taken of SNCC members at prayer. Why is this image used to introduce the following passage in March: Book Two, which depicts what happened after the photo was
taken (pp. 120–121? Discuss the ways in which real-life actions can be transformed into
4. The arrival of Martin Luther King, Jr, and the SCLC in Birmingham, AL, on April 9,
1963, (pp. 126–129) is recounted here in a passage that makes use of eyes and vision as its
theme. Discuss how this theme is depicted through the passage and what each repetition
of this motif communicates about the event.
5. What pivotal moment in the fight for equal rights is foreshadowed by the scene that
closes March: Book Two (pp. 177–180)?
6. List the different goals of the organizing groups who worked together to plan the March
on Washington’s speeches. (pp. 154–157, 162–165) If you had been backstage when the
discussion of speech content was underway, why would you support one or another of
the points made by the group discussing how specific words and phrases could help or
harm the mutual goal held by their organizations? What would you have advised John
Lewis before he spoke?
Music and Movement
Throughout March: Book Two, just as throughout the Civil Rights Era, singing plays a powerful role as commentary on events and political positions as well as a way for those with a
common goal to express their meeting point(s). Discuss the use of music and lyrics as they
occur in these panels and pages:
1. “Which Side Are You On?” was
originally a union organizing song,
written in the 1930s by Florence
Reece and later popularized by folk
musician Pete Seeger. In March:
Book Two, it’s performed by Jimmy
McDonald during an early training period (p. 32) in preparation for the Freedom Ride.
What is the song’s significance to that training?
2. Discuss the relevance of quoting Aretha Franklin’s performance of “My Country ‘Tis of
Thee” as a transition from the May 20, 1961 attack on the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, AL (pp. 71–79) to the 2009 presidential inauguration (pp. 80–81). What does
the visual “overlap” of two different time periods communicate about those events?
Note also the importance of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, and compare Franklin’s 2009 performance of the song
at the same location.
3. What was the purpose of the Freedom Riders’ singing in Parchman Prison (pp. 103–
106), and how was it perceived by the jailers? In what ways could this scene function as
a microcosm of the entire civil rights movement?
Comparing Primary Sources
Primary source documents of the Civil Rights era are available to enhance contextual awareness and support analytical thinking.
March: Book Two is written by a first-hand participant and so the book itself can be considered a primary source. Supply students with access to other primary sources noted below as
ones to consult.
1. March on Washington Flyer
This flyer was posted to alert community members to why and how they could participate
in the March.
2. CBS News Special Report: Coverage of the March on Washington
Televised news specials provided both commentary and broadcast access to national events
throughout the nation during this period. Note how the white journalist, speaking to the
broad audience of Americans who are not present at the March on Washington, describes
both the purposes and behaviors of those present. This newsreel also shows many scenes
depicted on the pages of March: Book Two, from the viewpoint of professionally placed video
3. Mahalia Jackson and the Voices of the March on Washington, from the Rock and
Roll hall of Fame
Includes the archival recording of the gospel singer’s performance of “How I Got Over”,
at the March on Washington.
4. Jim Crow and Segregation (free iOS app from the Library of Congress’ digital
While this (loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/civil-rights/) digital
collection can also be viewed free online at the Library of Congress site, the app has interactive elements that may expand learning for many students.
FOR FURTHER READING AND VIEWING
Additional Titles in This SeriesMarch: Book One (With Teaching Guide!)
March: Book Three
The titles listed below touch on themes such as government’s mistreatment of citizens, life under Communism, resiliency, community, and the importance of a connection to the natural world. Burmese Moons (With Teaching Guide!)Burmese Moons: Reading and Teaching | Ages 16 - 18
They Called Us Enemy also (With Teaching Guide!)They Called Us The Enemy: Reading and Teaching Guides - 7 Lessons!- | Ages 9 - 12
ONLINE RESOURCES“John Lewis: The Civil Rights Movement—From Freedom Rider to Congressman”
Congressman Lewis first
joined the nonviolent activist movement focused
on desegregating the
American South when
he was 17. Here he talks
about his earliest experiences as a protester, the
leaders and books that
influenced his beliefs in
nonviolent activism, and
how his experiences continue to have repercussions in his life more than
50 years later.
“Music of the Civil Rights Movement,” from Eyes on the Prize, PBS
Bernice Johnson Reagon was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Freedom Singers. After reading her introduction to the music of the Civil Rights
Movement, listen to the Freedom Singers. If you cannot find these recordings locally, Bernice Johnson Reardon maintains a Spotify channel you can access.
“Rep. John Lewis’ Speech at the 1963 March on Washington”
Lewis’s landmark speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August
28, 1963, was recorded and broadcast nationwide. This audiovisual recording of the speech,
courtesy of Bill Moyers, complements the graphic depiction in March: Book Two.
SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKS FOR YOUTH
Partridge, Elizabeth. Marching For Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow
Weary (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2009) Many of the expert black and white photos
in this nonfiction narrative reached publication for the first time in this book, which chronicles the role of African American youth in the 1965 marches for voting rights in Selma, AL.
Weaver, Lila Quintero. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (University of Alabama
Press, 2012) A superb companion to March: Book Two, Weaver’s nonfiction graphic novel
provides her eyewitness viewpoint on race in the 1960s—as seen by a Latina girl living in
Alabama with her recently arrived family, including her father, whom she regularly accompanied as he photographed these events.
Wiles, Deborah. Revolution, Book Two of “The Sixties Trilogy” [audiobook format] (Scholastic, 2014), performed in audio by Stacey Aswad, Francois Battiste, Robin Miles, J. D.
Jackson, produced by Listening Library (Random House). Set in Greenwood, MI, during
the summer of 1964, the audiobook production of this young adult novel includes many
performances of speeches, songs, and letters written by actual persons in SNCC, the federal
government, and other related parties.
DuVernay, Ava (dir.), Selma (2014). This Oscar-nominated film can function as an effective
“sequel” to March: Book Two, picking up with the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in
Birmingham and continuing into the Selma voting
rights campaign of 1964–65, including the “Bloody
Sunday” march co-led by John Lewis, the march
from Selma to Montgomery, and the development
of the Voting Rights Act. Students can examine the
differences resulting from Selma’s focus on SCLC
and Martin Luther King in contrast to March’s focus
on SNCC and John Lewis.
This guide was developed and written by Francisca Goldsmith, who has been working with comics and teen
readers for over 25 years. She is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels (ALA Editions)
and regularly reviews and teaches graphic novels and comics in a variety of venues.
ADVISORY ON LANGUAGE
Please note that, in its accurate depiction of racism in the 1950s and 1960s, the March series
contains several instances of racist language and other potentially offensive epithets. As with
any text used in schools that may contain sensitivities, Top Shelf urges you to preview the
text carefully and, as needed, to alert parents and guardians in advance as to the type of
language as well as the authentic learning objectives that it supports.