John Lewis’s Trilogy Is Off to a Fast Start

John Lewis at a book signing for his novel, March: Book One, on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Oct. 24, 2013, 1:24 p.m.

When An­drew Aydin, an aide to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., told his boss he was go­ing to Com­ic-Con, the an­nu­al com­ic-book ex­tra­vag­anza, Aydin was teased by some of his col­leagues.

“Some of the guys star­ted mak­ing fun of him,” said Lewis, at a book-sign­ing Wed­nes­day even­ing for March: Book One, the first in­stall­ment of a three-part auto­bi­o­graph­ic­al graph­ic nov­el. “I said, ‘You shouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t make fun of him. There was an­oth­er com­ic book that came out in 1958.’”

Mar­tin Luth­er King and the Mont­gomery Story was a field manu­al for wa­ging Ma­hatma Gandhi-style cam­paigns of pass­ive res­ist­ance. The 14-page com­ic book, which was pub­lished by the Fel­low­ship of Re­con­cili­ation and sold for 10 cents, in­spired the young Lewis to ab­jure vi­ol­ence and counseled dis­ciples of Mar­tin Luth­er King Jr. not to re­tali­ate against the taunts, sneers, and spittle of the move­ment’s op­pon­ents. In March, Lewis speaks at length about Jim Lawson, one of the men af­fil­i­ated with FOR.

“He spoke of Gandhi, this little brown man from In­dia us­ing the way of non­vi­ol­ence to free an en­tire na­tion of people,” writes Lewis, over a draw­ing of his young­er self med­it­at­ing in a church pew. “And how we could ap­ply non­vi­ol­ence, just as Dr. King did in Mont­gomery, all across Amer­ica — South and North — to erad­ic­ate some of the evils we all faced: the evil of ra­cism, the evil of poverty, the evil of war”¦. His words lib­er­ated me. I thought, ‘This is it. This is the way out.’”

Shortly after March was re­leased, it rock­eted to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for pa­per­back graph­ic books, and the slim volume is now perched in the No. 4 spot. On Wed­nes­day, March drew a crush of com­ic-book mavens to Uni­on Sta­tion, with a line snak­ing from the east wing of the build­ing in­to the Main Hall. Lewis and Aydin, delayed by a vote on Cap­it­ol Hill, were 30 minutes late to ar­rive, but the crowd only grew in the in­ter­im. 

Lewis has said that March, which was ghost-writ­ten by Aydin and il­lus­trated by Nate Pow­ell, is in­ten­ded for read­ers of all ages, but the sub­ject is grim. The graph­ic nov­el opens on March 7, 1965, with civil-rights demon­strat­ors un­der at­tack by a phalanx of po­lice of­ficers wield­ing rifles and truncheons. March then fast-for­wards to Jan. 20, 2009 — the day of Pres­id­ent Obama’s first in­aug­ur­a­tion.

Lewis’s of­fice on Cap­it­ol Hill is littered with pul­let-themed bric-à-brac, and the first in­stall­ment of his il­lus­trated auto­bi­o­graphy ex­plains why. The son of a share­crop­per in south­east­ern Alabama, Lewis grew up in the com­pany of chick­ens and prac­ticed ser­mons in the chick­en coop. “I would get them all in­to the hen­house and settle them on their roosts,” he writes. “They would sit quietly. They would bow their heads, they would shake their heads, but they would nev­er quite say ‘amen.’ “

Now in his 14th term as a Demo­crat­ic con­gress­man from the At­lanta met­ro­pol­it­an area, Lewis spoke at the 1963 March on Wash­ing­ton when he was just 23. From 1963 to 1966, the young preach­er was chair­man of the Stu­dent Non­vi­ol­ent Co­ordin­at­ing Com­mit­tee and re­garded as one of the “Big Six” lead­ers of the civil-rights move­ment. In 1977, Lewis was named dir­ect­or of AC­TION, a pre­de­cessor of the Cor­por­a­tion for Na­tion­al and Com­munity Ser­vice, by Pres­id­ent Carter. He was elec­ted to Con­gress in 1986 and awar­ded the Medal of Free­dom by Pres­id­ent Obama in 2011.

What We're Following See More »
FOLLOWED CLOSED DOOR MEETING
Peña Nieto, Trump Trade Subtle Jabs in Statements
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.

LOWER COURT RULING STANDS
SCOTUS Won’t Restore NC Voter ID Law
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."

Source:
SMOKIN’ AND SHOOTIN’
Court: 2nd Amendment Doesn’t Protect Pot Users’ Gun Rights
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS
THE QUESTION
How Many Offices Does Trump Have in Battleground States?
15 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Eighty-eight, according to PBS. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has 291 offices in those same 15 states.

Source:
BUT HE’S NOT ADVOCATING FOR IT
Grassley Open to Lame Duck Hearings on Garland
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.

Source:
×