under the covers

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington With This New Graphic Novel

John Lewis pens civil rights history in new graphic novel

By Jessi Cape, 4:15PM, Wed. Aug. 28, 2013

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington With This New Graphic Novel

Today marks the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington – one of the largest peaceful demonstrations for civil rights in American history.

John Lewis, the youngest keynote speaker at the march, co-authored graphic novel March (Book One) with Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell, to bring his firsthand account of civil rights history to new generations.

At only 23 years old, activist John Lewis, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the sixth speaker at the 250,000-person march to Washington Mall; his preceded Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful "I Have a Dream" speech. Celebrity stage participants ranged from Bob Dylan to Marlon Brando, but the calls for peaceful revolution in Dr. King's and Lewis' speeches are still considered some of the most powerful calls to action in our nation's history.

A Freedom Rider, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times, severely beaten by police, and became one of the revered “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement. Currently the United States House Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district since his election in 1986, Lewis has continued his work for equality. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and today he is the only living speaker remaining from the historic day. He gave a crowd-rousing speech last Saturday in celebration of the March.

Lewis' personal account of the movement for freedom is told here in black-and-white comic strips. This book – the first of a trilogy – covers the span from Lewis' childhood on a farm – his lifelong affinity for chickens, Rhode Island Reds and Bantams, explained within – through the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins of 1960 and will tell the story of the nonviolent fight against segregation and racism. Told in flashback, it is deeply personal, emotionally stirring, and incredibly relevant. Simple but riveting, this graphic novel transports the reader to a time many younger audiences have only read about in watered-down-and-glossed-over snippets in textbooks.The honest, raw simplicity allows the brutal facts to become real, lest the quest for equality, one which continues to this minute, ever be mistaken as just a dusty story from the past.

March (Book One)
by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
Top Shelf Productions, 128 pp., $14.95

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