City officials announced that the 15th annual Livermore Reads Together community literacy program will feature the "March" trilogy by late Congressman John Lewis, the American civil rights leader and longtime legislator who died last week.
"March" is a graphic novel trilogy co-created by Lewis (D-Ga.), who prior to serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for 33 years was one of the "Big Six" leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He also served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1963-66, among many other accomplishments and distinctions.
Lewis died last Friday (July 17) at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. His death inspired national mourning and remembrance.
Tri-Valley Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) spoke on Twitter about his colleague's passing this weekend, saying, "John Lewis was a hero we didn't deserve -- a champion for equality and freedom, a steadfast statesman, and one of my personal heroes -- and I'm heartbroken at his passing."
"He lived a remarkable life and inspired a generation of Americans to fight for a better tomorrow," Swalwell continued. "John was gravitas and dignity personified; whenever he spoke, even amid the noise of the House, the room would always become silent. May we honor his legacy by continuing to make 'good trouble' and remembering that no one is free until we are all free."
The Livermore Public Library announced the day before his death that Lewis' "March" trilogy was their selection for the 2021 Livermore Reads Together program.
Their choice was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained prominence over the last few months. Librarian Paul Sevilla said, "We hope that the trilogy will not only educate readers, but also inspire them to act for racial justice."
Throughout Black History Month in February, the Livermore Public Library will be hosting events for youth and adults to explore the themes depicted in "March."
Lewis created the "March" trilogy, alongside co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, to provide a "vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation," according to library officials.
"His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African American president," library officials said in a statement July 16.
The trilogy, which covers Lewis' journey from rural Alabama to the House of Representatives, has received numerous accolades, including the distinction of being the first graphic novel to receive a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It is a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and an American Library Association Notable Book, among other recognitions.