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Saturday

Why a civil rights icon chose to tell his story in the form of a comic book

A packed house greeted civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and his co-authors of the "March" trilogy, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, at Bovard Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.

Their graphic novel "March: Book Three," which is based on Lewis' life, is a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Young Adult Literature.

So, why a comic book?

Aydin, who works as Lewis' digital director and policy advisor, grew up reading comic books and felt that the medium was an effective way to bring a new generation into Lewis' story.

"When you're a kid and you don't have much to see in terms of good people ... when you finally meet one and work for one, you know you have to do something special to tell his story," Aydin said.

A young John Lewis is seen in the foreground being clubbed by a state trooper during a civil rights protest in Selma, Ala., in 1965. (Associated Press)
A young John Lewis is seen in the foreground being clubbed by a state trooper during a civil rights protest in Selma, Ala., in 1965. (Associated Press)

As a young man, Rep. Lewis was inspired by the 1950s comic book, "Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story," to join the civil rights movement. He went on to organize sit-ins and participated in the Freedom Rides.

Lewis hopes his experiences in the book will inspire others to continue the fight.

"We've made too much progress. We've gone too far, and we are not going back," he said. "They must understand that they will be the leaders of the 21st century. Maybe we can serve as a model."

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