Fans flock to Comic-Con each year to see costumed superheroes walk among glammed up gods. This year, civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis was a top attraction at the 2013 Comic-Con International comic book convention in San Diego to promote his new graphic novel “March,” which tells the story of his role in the civil rights marches and demonstrations he helped lead as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee activist in the 1960s. (Read more about those protests here.)
According to Roll Call’s “Heard on the Hill” blog, Lewis received a “hero’s welcome” at the convention, where he gave a presentation on the book project. More 100 people camped out in anticipation of his talk and he was “swarmed by supporters” at the moment of his arrival.
Said Warren Rojas at Roll Call:
Activists pressed him about how to restore Voting Rights Act protections that the Supreme Court recently struck down. Frustrated parents fished for guidance about justice for Trayvon Martin, the African-American teen killed in Sanford, Fla., by acquitted gunman George Zimmerman. Admirers swooped in for chummy pictures, pumping the stoic politician’s hand while praising his “courage,” “determination” and “character.”
Lewis co-authored “March” with his congressional aide Andrew Aydin, whose college dissertation was based on a comic book that proved instrumental among 1960s civil rights activists. In 1958, an organization called the Fellowship on Reconciliation produced “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” a 16-page comic book that illustrated the work and achievements of the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott and the nonviolent methods of King and his fellow civil rights activists.
The comic book moved 200,000 copies, which was impressive — that would placed it among the top 30 highest-selling comic books in the nation in 1960. It also “apparently sparked the imagination of budding activist Lewis,” reports Roll Call.
Now Lewis is helping write his own comic series — “March” is a three-volume set — that he hopes young people will read and then pass “it on to other members of their family or to their students,” he told Rojas.
At last week’s Senate hearings on the Voting Rights Act, where Lewis testified, Sen. Patrick Leahy recognized “March,” showing his signed copy and telling the audience that he’d be giving copies to all five of his grandchildren.