The words and images of “March” bring to life the story of John Lewis, the power of youth and the power of nonviolence — making them accessible and urgently relevant to new generations.
Photo by Eric Etheridge
John Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th district and an American icon known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement.
He first joined the 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.
Now, in collaboration with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, he has created “March”, a #1 New York Times Bestselling series of graphic novels, winning honors from the Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, among many others. “March” has become a runaway success with institutions and individuals, who have celebrated the series even at Comic-Con, where Congressman Lewis dressed in costume as himself and led a crowd of students in a commemorative march. Perhaps most importantly, schools and universities nationwide have embraced the project, making John Lewis’s story a must-read for young people across America.
Photo by Harriet Beecher
Andrew Aydin, an Atlanta native, grew up reading and collecting comic books. After college, upon taking a job with Congressman Lewis, Andrew learned that the civil rights legend had been inspired as a young man by a classic 1950s comic book, “Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story”. They discussed the impact that comic books can have on young readers and decided to write a graphic novel together about the civil rights era. A few years later, the “March” series was born.
Today, Andrew serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor to Congressman Lewis in Washington, D.C. While studying at Georgetown University in Washington, Andrew wrote his master’s thesis on the history and impact of “Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story”. As “March” has grown into a bona fide phenomenon, Andrew continues to publish and lecture about the history of comics in the Civil Rights Movement — including at the headquarters of Google and Apple, where CEO Tim Cook called the trilogy “a very unique way to present what is probably the most important story of my entire lifetime. My hope is that everyone reads this, and I would love to see the day that it is required reading in every school.”
Photo by Rett Peek
Nate Powell, called by “Booklist“ magazine “the most prodigiously talented graphic novelist of his generation,” was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He began self-publishing at age 14 and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2000. After a decade of working with adults with developmental disabilities, Nate devoted himself full-time to writing and drawing comics. In addition to the “March” series, his work includes Rick Riordan’s “The Lost Hero”, “You Don’t Say”, “Any Empire”, “Swallow Me Whole”, “The Silence of Our Friends” and “The Year of the Beasts”. Nate’s work has received copious honors, including the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Novel, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination, and four “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” from the American Library Association.
Nate has discussed his work at the United Nations alongside some of the world’s foremost writers of young adult fiction and has joined the “March” team on CNN and The Rachel Maddow Show. His animated illustrations in Southern Poverty Law Center’s documentary “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot” recently reached one million students in over 50,000 schools across the nation.
Together, these three creators have turned the life of an exceptional human being into both a work of literature and a work of art.