Review of Fighting with Love: The Legacy of John Lewis

Fighting with Love: The Legacy of John Lewis Fighting with Love: The Legacy of John Lewis
by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illus. by James E. Ransome
Primary    Wiseman/Simon    48 pp.
1/24    9781534496620    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781534496637    $10.99

The prolific author-illustrator couple (most recently The Story of the Saxophone, rev. 1/23) teams up again to offer this inspiring picture-book biography of the late human rights and civil rights icon. Cline-Ransome’s reverent narrative gracefully captures Lewis’s (1940–2020) humility and perseverance. Growing up in a farming family in Alabama, young John learned about love from the Bible at an early age. He felt its presence everywhere he went—except when he encountered the discriminatory realities of Jim Crow laws. “Election day meant Whites Only could pick the laws, mayors, and presidents. John hated that colored folks had to stick to picking cotton.” Inspired by a radio sermon delivered by Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis left home at seventeen to attend the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. As he learned about practices of nonviolent resistance, his commitment to end segregation through nonviolent protest was unwavering. Beaten and arrested, yet undeterred, he led prolonged sit-ins; rode buses as a Freedom Rider; spoke at the March on Washington calling for jobs and freedom; and led the march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, that ended in state police violence. Ransome’s distinctive illustrations, created with a combination of found, printed, and purchased paper with pencil drawings, perfectly match Cline-Ransome’s telling and dramatically radiate the magnitude of Lewis’s influence. An author’s note, a timeline, sources for quotations, and a selected bibliography are appended.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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