Q&A with Rep. John Lewis on his graphic memoir ‘March: Book One’

Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg meet the day after the election.
Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg meet the day after the election. Photo Credit: Handout Handout/ Joaquin Simo

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has a story far more heroic than any costumed superhero you’d find in a graphic novel.

The congressman, the last living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, tells his story in the civil rights movement in the graphic novel “March: Book One,” co-written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell.

amNewYork chatted with Rep. Lewis about the book, which he’ll be discussing at Midtown Comics Downtown tonight.

Why did you decide to tell your story as a graphic novel?

I wanted to teach a new generation about our history, about how far we’ve come as a nation and as a people, as well as to show them the power and potential of nonviolence. … We cannot be afraid to be creative. I remember a comic book called “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story” that helped inspire me and many others to get involved in the ’50s and the ’60s. Now I want to inspire a new generation to get involved.

What do you hope readers take from your story?

I hope they understand that this happened because of the hard work of … thousands of [people] who wanted America to be a better place. They were willing to fight, to speak up and speak out. A lot of people were hurt. I gave a little blood. Some even gave their very lives. Change does not come easily. To move our country forward requires commitment. You have to keep pushing and keep pulling, not just for a day or a month or a year, but for a lifetime.

Did you have any requests for Nate when you saw his drawings of you? Were you pleased with the way you looked?

Well, you know, most of this book is about when I was a few pounds lighter, and had all my hair. … Nate did a wonderful job. He really managed to capture the essence of what was happening — the passion and the drama. Reading through the book, you can feel everything come to life.