US Rep. John Lewis on civil rights, his life and America’s future

US Rep. John Lewis on civil rights, his life and America’s future
November 24, 2017 paperlesslion

U.S. Representative John Lewis spoke in Ann Arbor last week. Part of the University of Michigan Penny Stamps Speaker Series, the civil rights icon discussed his life, struggle for justice, and his best-selling graphic novel, “March.” The event was free and open to the public, Monday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at Hill Auditorium.

If you were not able to attend in person, watch online: Live-Streamed at

The Smithsonian institution presents the story behind the civil rights leader’s arrest history. Rep. Lewis was arrested at least 45 times as a non-violent protester in opposition to official and cultural racism. Click here for details.

More on Rep. Lewis’s address from U-M:

Long-time member of Congress and historic civil rights leader, Rep. John Robert Lewis will appear in Ann Arbor to discuss his life’s work promoting justice and equality over a career that has spanned more than 66 years. From lunch counter sit-ins to Freedom Rides to the famed march on Montgomery, he has figured prominently in the major battles of our times for human dignity.

As part of the University of Michigan Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, Rep. Lewis will discuss his life in the civil rights movement and in Congress, recounted in his best-selling graphic novel trilogy: “March.” He will be joined in the talk by his co-author, Andrew Aydin, and illustrator Nate Powell. After the presentation, Lewis will sign copies of the book.

In partnership with Penny Stamps, Detroit Public Television (DPTV) will live-stream the event on our website:

Born to sharecropper parents in Alabama and seeing firsthand how racial segregation affected him and his family, Rep. Lewis was inspired to spearhead the Nashville sit-ins to help desegregate the city. In 1963, he was one the youngest leaders of the momentous march on Washington, where Dr. Martin L. King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Often referred to as “the Conscience of the U.S. Congress,” Rep. Lewis has served Georgia’s 5th district since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party leadership, Lewis was named the Senior Chief Deputy Whip in 2003.

Through the years, Lewis has earned many honors for his activism and service to the community. In 1999, the University of Michigan awarded Lewis with the Wallenberg Medal for his lifelong commitment to the defense of civil and human rights. In 2011, Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

In 2013, the first book in the “March” trilogy appeared to widespread praise. Aydin, who is currently Rep. Lewis’s digital director and policy advisor, persuaded him to publish a graphic novel after hearing stories of his role in the civil rights struggle, which resulted in more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries. They recruited Powell, a best-selling graphic novelist himself, to illustrate the book.

When the final installment of the trilogy came out in 2016, it debuted at No. 1 in The New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels, with the other two installments occupying the second and third spots.

Rep. Lewis has quite a story to tell, and his talk in Ann Arbor should be a riveting account of his life, his accomplishments and his work to make the American dream one we can all aspire to.

The University of Michigan’s Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series brings respected innovators from a broad spectrum of fields to campus to conduct public lectures and to engage with students, faculty, and the larger University and Ann Arbor communities.

For more information about Rep. Lewis’s appearance and the Penny Stamps series, visit here. Hill Auditorium is located on the U-M Ann Arbor Campus at 825 N. University Ave.

If you can’t make it to Ann Arbor Monday, you can watch the live stream at