By Jarod Golub
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, knows more about creating social change than most due to his years of experience in the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.
“I was 15 years old the first time I heard about Rosa Parks and heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr. Their actions and their words and leadership inspired me to find a way in [to the movement],” Lewis said at the Good Trouble lecture Oct. 12. “I truly believe that I was guided by the spirit of history.”
Lewis’ graphic novel “March: Book Three,” co-authored with Andrew Aydin, is this university’s First Year Book for the 2017-18 school year. Aydin, Lewis’ Digital Director and Policy Adviser, pulled the idea to illustrate the history of the Civil Rights Movement from his love for comic books as a child.
“I got into comic books because when you grow up without a father, you need heroes, you need role models. And I found comics to be this place where I could read stories about people who wanted to do the right thing because they knew it was the right thing to do,” Aydin said.
Lewis and Aydin spoke about “March: Book Three” at the annual First Year Book Talk at the Memorial Chapel. The First Year Book has been a tradition at this university since 1993.
Students who attended the event were also in favor of the choice to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement as a graphic novel.
“I think everyone should read [the march trilogy] because it’s just such a real in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement And it’s so accessible too. I think it was a stroke of genius making it into a graphic novel because it’s so easy to read and it welcomes you by painting the story right in front of you,” said sophomore biology major Neto Obichere.
Many students came to the event because they felt inspired by Lewis and empowered by the university’s choice for the First Year Book.
“Our history and culture is so often erased, this is something we don’t get a chance to experience, like this being a requirement for English 101 at the University of Maryland, a top-20 public university in the nation is such a big deal,” said sophomore African American studies major Nwando Arah.
This is the second year in a row the university has chosen a book by a prominent black activist — last year’s book was “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that works to get wrongly-convicted felons out of prison.
“[March: Book Three] means a lot to me because it takes our history and shapes it in a way that is able to make it available not only to people my age, but to kids as well,” said Jasmine Okosun, a senior on the pre-nursing track. “We can’t exclude children, children are the future. For John Lewis to be able to take this history, which has the potential to be hard for children to understand, and make it easy to read is really important.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy Barack Obama’s White House website.
Jarod Golub is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.