BY BARB BERGGOETZ
Read and discuss the books. Meet the authors. Take action.
Organizers of the upcoming Power of Words event hope the visit of civil rights icon United States Rep. John Lewis, whose life is illustrated in the graphic novel series March, will encourage local residents to do all of the above.
The congressman from Georgia, his co-writer Andrew Aydin, and local award-winning graphic illustrator Nate Powell will speak September 21 at the Power of Words event, presented by the Monroe County Public Library, Friends of the Library, and the Indiana University Union Board. The free 7:30 p.m. presentation at the IU Auditorium is preceded by a 5:30 p.m. paid reception at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.
Organizers have collaborated with many partners, including the City of Bloomington, IU, and local schools, offering book discussions, films, and other activities to advance the conversation.
Encouraging people to take action is new this year, says Sara Laughlin, Power of Words event co-chair. Getting people to register to vote, to sign up for local boards, or to become active in social causes are some of the ways Laughlin hopes people will get involved.
“We would like to see continued focus on civil rights,” she says. “The issues that Lewis has been involved with his whole life are still not resolved. It has a very particular relevance in the news right now.”
The March series, a No. 1 New York Times best-selling trilogy, provides a first-hand account of Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights while reflecting on the broader civil rights movement.
March: Book One spans Lewis’ youth in Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., and the battle to eliminate segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee. Newly-released March: Book Two details Lewis’ involvement in civil rights events, including 1961 Freedom Rides and the legendary 1963 March on Washington. The third volume is planned for release in late 2016.
Beverly Calender-Anderson, director of Bloomington’s Community and Family Resources Department, says the city will benefit from the efforts of Lewis, Aydin, and Powell to educate young people about the civil rights movement and its strategies.
“It will help many of those who were not yet born when Lewis marched to Selma [Alabama] understand that this event was not so very long ago,” she says. “Their decision to document this history in a graphic novel is pure genius.”
For more information and to obtain tickets, visit thepowerofwords.info.