By Grace Dille
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and congressional staffer Andrew Aydin spoke at the annual First Year Book Lecture on Oct.12 in the Memorial Chapel, where they encouraged students to advocate for change in politics.
Their book, titled “March: Book Three,” takes place during the civil rights movement and follows Lewis’s involvement as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
This is their third book in their award-winning graphic novel trilogy, “March,” which features comic art by Nate Powell.
Lewis’s past includes growing up on a sharecropper’s farm in Alabama, attending segregated public schools, enduring physical violence, orchestrating sit-ins, helping to organize the March on Washington, serving in Congress and receiving the Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama in 2011.
Having grown up reading comic books, Aydin said he wanted to bring Lewis’s stories to life after hearing about them. Last year, “March: Book Three” became the first-ever graphic novel to receive the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2016.
Lewis urged students to get involved in government and continue pushing for equality.
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just — you have a moral obligation to stand up, to say something, to do something,” Lewis said.
During the lecture, Aydin emphasized the importance of student engagement in today’s politics, and challenged the audience to make their voices heard.
“Change is possible,” Aydin said. “So I ask all of you: join us. March.”
Freshman psychology and government and politics double major Osetohanme Okojie took Lewis’s and Aydin’s advice to heart, describing the lecture as “very moving” and “very honest.”
“They directed their message toward the students and gave us advice and guidance in moving forward to effect a change in our society now,” Okojie said, “instead of just sitting and listening and not knowing where to move forward.”
Freshman public health major Elise Osborne said she was “humbled” in having the opportunity to hear an American icon such as Lewis speak.
“It was pretty inspirational,” Osborne said. “I’m just happy that I got the opportunity to see him and then hear about his life, rather than read about it, because it just sounded better coming from him.”
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, who was also in attendance, said he had never been so “moved” and “inspired” after listening to them speak.
“I think that there’s a message that all of us can take — to keep the faith, be hopeful, organize politically and to vote,” Loh said.