John Lewis urges UMD students to stay informed and engaged in today’s politics

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Congressman John Lewis answers a student’s question. He and congressional aide Andrew Aydin (right) presented the lecture, “Good Trouble” on Oct. 12.

By Angela Roberts

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and congressional staffer Andrew Aydin visited campus Oct. 12 to present their lecture, “Good Trouble,” where they spoke about their co-authored book, “March: Book Three.”

In 2016, “March” became the first graphic novel to earn the National Book Award. It broke similar boundaries at UMD when it was chosen as the 2017 First Year Book.

“I think the idea to make it a comic book was fantastic, because now it’s easier to have a hard conversation with younger audiences,” senior kinesiology major Cairan George said. “I have two younger sisters who are in middle school, and I never know how to have this conversation with them because I don’t know how much they already know [or] the best way to appeal to them. I feel like this book would be the best way.”

Aydin discussed the early development and publication of their book, while Lewis spoke primarily on its content – namely, his own story.

From his upbringing on a chicken farm, Lewis explained how he came to be one of the youngest and most influential leaders of the civil rights movement.

Throughout his childhood, which he spent in segregated Alabama, his parents told him, “don’t get in the way, don’t get in trouble,” he said.

It wasn’t until he heard the message of Martin Luther King, Jr., that he was inspired to “find a way to get in the way.”

Lewis detailed the brutality he experienced while protesting non-violently. Though burned, spit on, beaten, and threatened, his message always remained hopeful and spirited.

“Keep the faith. Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t get lost in the sea of despair,” he said. “Be hopeful. Be optimistic.”

When Aydin stood to speak, he playfully branded himself as “the nerd of the nerds,” and shared his infatuation with comic books.

He later took a more serious tone, urging students in the audience to mobilize against hatred and divisive rhetoric.

“You’re going to have to fight,” Aydin said. “You’re going to have to stand up for yourselves. I ask all of you: join us. March.”

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