Fighting with Love: The Legacy of John Lewis

Fighting with Love: The Legacy of John Lewis
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
January 09, 2024
Buy This Book
The “informative, resounding” (Booklist, starred review), and “inspiring” (The Horn Book, starred review) story of a groundbreaking civil rights leader John Lewis comes to life in this compelling and beautifully told, “excellent” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) nonfiction picture book by the award-winning team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome.

John Lewis left a cotton farm in Alabama to join the fight for civil rights when he was only a teenager. He soon became a leader of a movement that changed the nation. Walking at the side of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was led by his belief in peaceful action and voting rights. Today and always his work and legacy live on.

Editor review

1 review
Fitting Tribute to Civil Rights Legend
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Born in 1940 in Troy, Alabama, John Lewis grew up in a large family with supportive parents. There were many struggles, however, as the family tried to earn a living farming but was given trouble at every step of the way. Lewis was not able to get as much schooling as he wanted, but attended whenever he could. When he was 15, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak on the radio, and for the first time understood that things needed to change for Black people. He studied at the American Baptist Theological Seminary and began to get involved in the nonviolent protest movement. This movement spoke to him because he had the love of his family and church, and he felt that if he protested out of a place of love, it would be the most effective way to change things. He was arrested many times, and was hospitalized when he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. After the assassination of King, Lewis continued to work for Civil Rights causes, and was eventually elected to Congress in 1986. He never gave up fighting for racial equality, working up until his death in 2020 at the age of 80.

Good Points
It's notable that both the author and illustrator were able to meet Lewis at an American Library Association conference in 2017. The focus on Lewis' nonviolent protests and his belief that the best place to start change is from a place of love is an excellent one. Lewis' religious background, belief in education, and dedication to his purpose are clear throughout the book.

While this would be good for a read aloud for elementary students, there is enough information in the book to make it valuable for research in middle school as well. The detailed time line, bibliography, and quotations, as well as a two page overview in an author's note at the end, give this title more substance than some picture books.

Ransome's collage style illustrations capture the different time periods well, and the facial expressions are very moving. The placement of the text alongside the pictures is well done.

It's great to see a growing number of picture books about ground breaking political leaders from a variety of backgrounds, and this is an excellent title to have on hand with biographies such as Justice Rising: 12 Amazing Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement by Russell-Brown and Holt, Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement by Wallace and Collier, Justice Ketanji
by Patrick and King and Tadgell's We Dream a World.
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