Last August marked the 50th anniversary of the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led by Martin Luther King Jr. A 23-year-old civil rights activist from Alabama named John Lewis was the youngest speaker at the event, delivering a fiery speech to hundreds of thousands of marchers gathered on the Washington Mall. Though notably toned down from it’s original draft, his speech castigated the political establishment for not going far enough to protect African American civil rights:
“My friends let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution. By and large, politicians who build their career on immoral compromise and allow themselves an open forum of political, economic and social exploitation dominate American politics.
“…Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets of Birmingham? Where is the political party that will protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia?”
Lewis went on to serve on the Atlanta City Council, and was elected to Congress in 1986, where he has earned a reputation as one of the most liberal members of the House. He recently teamed up with Andrew Ayden and illustrator Nate Powell to write March, a three volume graphic nonfiction series documenting Lewis’s life. Book One looks at Rep. Lewis’s life before the March on Washington — his childhood and his introduction to the civil rights movement.
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OPB | Sept. 22, 2016