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John Lewis’s Sequel to His Award-Winning Graphic Memoir, ‘March’

That free-form word cited above with all the W’s is the sound of a police siren as baton-wielding troopers race to the church protest in Americus, Ga., to cuff Lewis for the umpteenth time. We read the same word again when the police pull over a young Black man in Watts. And then a FFWACK as he is struck with an officer’s firearm and a KFFUD as a rock is hurled onto the hood of the police car. In no time, Watts is aflame. As one flips the pages, there are THUMPs, POWs, DINGs and, as Lewis is ousted as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee by a more radical element of the movement led by Stokely Carmichael, cries on the streets of BLACK POWER!

Black Americans have never been a monolith, despite frequent efforts to portray us as such. Lewis offers a fair-minded account of how his turn-the-other-cheek philosophy clashed with the frustrations of the movement back then. At age 26, he found himself broke, jobless and no longer its chosen one.

Book One finishes before Lewis found his next act. But we know his trajectory well: how he was elected to Congress and over three decades turned into an icon again. Lewis lived long enough to witness the killing of George Floyd by an officer who knelt on his neck and ignored his cries of I CAN’T BREATHE! This is a story, lamentably, without an end.

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