By Arturo R. García
A real hero came to San Diego on July 20, as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) arrived to unveil the first volume of March, a three-volume autobiographical graphic novel telling his own origin story.
“I hope that hundreds and thousands of young people across America and around the world, pick up this book and be inspired to engage in non-violent direct action,” Lewis said. “When they see something that is not right, something that is unjust, that they be moved to protest.”
Co-written by Andrew Aydin, a member of his staff, and illustrated by Nate Powell, the first volume of the story, due out on Aug. 13, flashes back to Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, and his eventual journey into what we now know to be the Civil Rights Movement, but was initially called “the Montgomery Method.” Under the cut is my live report from their jam-packed session at the convention.
During the Q&A portion of the session, Aydin and Lewis described their own creative process:
Aydin: “I would interview him. I would ask him, ‘Tell me this story,’ and I would record it. Then I’d go back and transcribe it, and I’d really try and capture his words. Because the most important thing is that when you read this book, you hear the same thing you’d hear if you got to talk to him. It’s a history that must be kept. So, sometimes we would have little down moments, you know, at this or that event and that was sort of how we found our way. Then I’d sit on my couch with my dog, Delilah, and do what I could.”
Lewis: “Andrew was very easy to write with. We’d talk constantly. Other than some times when I’d suggest, ‘Maybe you need to go back and put this word, delete this word,’ this is it. When I re-read the story of the chicken it almost made me cry. It was so real.”
From a brief group interview Lewis conducted before the panel:
On concerns over the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Americans: “I’m concerned. I’m deeply concerned when there is the possibility of violating the privacy of people, eavesdropping on our citizens. We saw it during the fifties, during the sixties. It made it almost impossible for people to do their own work.”
On President Obama’s remarks that, “Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race”: “Young people are doing much better. Many young people cannot even conceive of the whole question of race. Young people growing up together, studying together. They cannot see a Black, a white or Latino or Asian America. They’ve never seen those signs that say, ‘White Waiting’ or ‘Colored Waiting,’ or ‘Colored Only’ or ‘White Only.’ The only places they will see those signs are in a book, on a video or in a museum, and we’ve got to move all of America toward that place, so we can lay down the burden of race.”