When John Lewis, the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th District and an American Icon known for his role in the civil rights movement, was a college student in Nashville, Tennessee, he attended a workshop on nonviolence that changed his life. Based on the principles of Gandhi and the recent Montgomery Bus Boycott, it also included a comic book — Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story — as a take-home study aid in nonviolent resistance. “That little book became like a Bible for us,” says Rep. Lewis. Fifty years later, he teamed with co-writer Andrew Aydin, his Congressional Digital Director and Policy Advisor, and artist Nate Powell to adapt his own incredible life story into a 3-part series of award-winning graphic novels, entitled March. The March series is a #1 New York Times-bestselling phenomenon, earning a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, becoming a popular selection for university reading programs, and prompting the Washington Post to write, “There is perhaps no more important modern book to be stocked in American school libraries than March.”
Rep. Lewis first joined the civil rights movement as a seminary student in Nashville, organizing sit-ins and participating in the first Freedom Rides, which challenged illegal segregation at bus stations across the South. He soon became the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the “Big Six” national leaders of the movement, alongside such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Philip Randolph. As SNCC chairman, Lewis was an architect of, and the youngest featured speaker at, the historic 1963 March on Washington, and was a key figure in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer. Together with Hosea Williams, he led the landmark “Bloody Sunday” March in Selma, Alabama, where police brutality spurred national outrage and hastened passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite physical attacks, serious injuries, and more than 40 arrests, John Lewis has remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. His subsequent career has included voter registration activism, service on the Atlanta City Council, and over 25 years in Congress. Lewis was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011, and was the first recipient of the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award.