One of the best moments of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con didn’t involve Hall H, Hollywood movies, or costumed superhumans, but an ageing Congressman who marched alongside countless others during America’s struggle for Civil Rights in the ’60s — even in the face of brutal beatings and countless arrests.
Congressman John Lewis is the last living member of the “Big Six” of the Civil Rights movement’s March on Washington — a group that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in its members.
In recent years, he’s also become a regular attendee of comic book conventions, most notably San Diego Comic-Con — which he appeared at for the second consecutive year last weekend.
The reason? His gripping, award-winning graphic novel trilogy “March,” an autobiographical account of Lewis’ life and how he became involved in the Civil Rights movement. Co-written by Lewis’ assistant, Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell, two volumes have been released so far — and they bear the distinction of being the first comic book ever written by a sitting Congressman.
Lewis — who cites a comic book about Dr. Martin Luther King as a big reason he became an activist — has been heavily involved in his book’s promotion over the last two years because he doesn’t see it merely as history, but a guide meant to inspire a new generation towards inciting real social change through nonviolent resistance. Hence, Comic-Con.
He even cosplayed as himself.
Congressman Lewis went to Comic-Con wearing a jacket and backpack identical to what he wore during the “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama — the events at the center of the film “Selma.”
It didn’t end there, though.
According to The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna — whose account of Lewis’ Comic-Con appearance is worth reading in full — a group of local third graders were brought to the convention to see Lewis speak.
When the time came to leave the room and cross the convention to the booth Lewis had to find a way to cross the crowded convention with his young audience.
So Lewis decided to recreate another little bit of history at Comic-Con. Hand-in-hand, from the panel room to the show floor, Lewis and the children did exactly what Lewis did when he last wore a coat and backpack like those on his back at the convention.
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