MARCH, a graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis

December 09, 2015

Congressman John Lewis’ Life of Civil Rights Leadership Chronicled in Graphic Novels
You might not think that civil rights and graphic novels go together, but following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, who personally edited a 16-page comic book on the Montgomery bus boycott more than a half century ago, Georgia Congressman John Lewis has turned to the popular literary form in a series of highly regarded books chronicling his early years of Freedom Rides, sit-ins and marches with King in the 1960s.

Lewis came to Columbia on Tuesday to discuss the graphic novels, titled March, and the events that inspired them, in a panel sponsored by the Center for American Studies and the Double Discovery Center. Speaking from the stage at the Italian Academy, Lewis told the audience of nearly 200 about growing up in his segregated hometown of Troy, Alabama, where signs marked “Whites” and “Colored” kept water fountains, waiting rooms and even the public library racially separate. “I came home and asked my parents, “Why?” and they said 'don’t get in the way, don’t get in trouble.’"

Then, in 1955, he heard of Rosa Parks, who had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. He listened to King speaking on the radio and became inspired. “I got in the way, I got into trouble—what I call good trouble, necessary trouble,” he said.