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Alabama's 10th congressional district

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Alabama's 10th congressional district
Population (1920)170,857
YearsMarch 4, 1917 - March 3, 1933

Alabama's 10th congressional district is an obsolete district which existed from 1917 until 1933. Its sole representative was William B. Bankhead. (Alabama had a 10th U.S. Representative from 1913 to 1917, but that seat was elected at large.)

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  • ✪ Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: March


Welcome everyone to the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. So welcome to the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. My name is Christina Hamilton, I'm the Series Director. I wanna say a special welcome to those of you who are watching this by live stream at one of the watch parties that's going on or on Detroit public televisions website on their live stream. And a big welcome to all you radio listeners out there as you are tuning in on the extreme left of your dial at 88.3 WCBN FM Ann Arbor. Today we could not be more thrilled to present and finally present, Congressman John Lewis. Yeah. Oh, you guys. With Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, co authors of the National Book Award winning trilogy, "March". And I wanna thank our partners in this endeavor because this evening's program is indeed a co presentation. This evening is being co presented by the International Institute's Conflict and Peace Initiative, the King Chavez Park's Visiting Professor's Program, and with Detroit Public Television, our great partner in getting this event out to more people in the world than those of us that have been able to make it here today. We had additional support from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, the Department of Psychology, the Department of, no sorry, the Department of Political Science, the Institute for the Humanities, the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the Office of Community Engaged Academic Learning, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Research. It takes a lot of people to make things happen, as you can see. I wanna mention to all of you that the Conflict and Peace Initiative is hosting a whole series of events, social justice events staged around this talk this evening. And the final event in this series is a Marching Forward Research and Scholarship symposium which is taking place this week on Wednesday at 4:00 PM, on the 10th floor of the new Wiser Hall building. And all are welcome to attend this. There are flyers in the lobby, you can get more information. This is the first time that we've hosted a Penny Stamps series event at Hill Auditorium. And a big thank you to Congressman Lewis and Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, who were able to reschedule this date which, scheduling the first date wasn't easy, cancelling the first date wasn't easy and finding a date that worked for everyone to reschedule wasn't easy. So here we are. And it's a wonderful moment, and I thank them deeply for sorting through all of that. I wanna say to all of our students in the audience tonight, you never know what can happen to you when you go to see someone talk. I was recently reading a book by one of our great alumni, Larry Brilliant, a gentleman who left here from the University of Michigan and helped eradicate smallpox from the planet, and he also started a little something called Google. When he first showed up as a student to University of Michigan in his freshman year he said he barricaded himself in his dorm room and wouldn't leave until he saw a tiny little notice in the Michigan Daily that said that Martin Luther King would be speaking at Hill Auditorium. And this was in November of 1962, 55 years ago this month. When he arrived at Hill Auditorium, there were only 100 people that came out to see Dr. King speak that day. So, it's amazing to see what has happened since 55 years 'cause there's certainly more than 100 people in the house tonight. But I can tell you that Larry Brilliant said... Yeah, Larry Brilliant said that when he saw Dr. King speak, he said, "We were transfixed, time stopped, and no one was ever the same after that moment." And he never spent any more time in his dorm room. So, for those of you who are here who don't know what the Penny Stamps series is, you have no idea, let me explain quickly. Penny Stamps series is a program of the Stamps School of Art and Design, which looks to present creative innovators who transcend tradition, like our guests today. It's a way for our students to connect directly with creative leaders. It's also open to the public. It typically happens every Thursday at the Michigan Theater, just down the street. So, if you don't know about us, and you wanna join us more often, please do. You can go to or join Penny Stamps series on Facebook to get more information. This week on Thursday, we will hold one of our regular talks. We'll be bringing in a sculptor from South Africa, Justine Mahoney. She's going to talk about her work as a sculptor and how it's been influenced by growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa during a very violent time during apartheid. So please do join us. And, I'm pleased to also point out that our theme of the Penny Stamps season this year is e pluribus unum which is Latin for "many are one." Most of us know this is the traditional motto of the United States, appearing on the Great Seal and passports, the Seal of the President, the Seal of Congress, in fact. And it shows up on some of our money. But in these times of deepening division in our country it's important to remember, we are all in this together. So, e pluribus unum. Don't forget it. We will host a few questions at the end of the stage presentation today. But this will not be our regular open mic Q and A. We have a mic down here, but there are so many students in classes across campus and beyond our campus who have been studying the "March" book in their classes, and so we have preselected a few students from the University of Michigan, also from Ypsilanti Community High School, and from the Youth Arts Alliance of Washtenaw County. Those 10 know who they are, and when the moment arrives, you can stand up at the microphone, and we all are eager to hear what you have to ask. There will be a book signing that is gonna follow the event today. Vault of Midnight is out in the lobby selling books if you don't have one yet. The book signing is going to take place downstairs. You will wanna enter that from the East side stairs as the East side stairs will be the entrance and the West side stairs will be the exit. During the book signing, as I'm sure there are many of you that wanna get things signed, please do remember we wanna keep it moving along. You get one signed item per person. They are only interested in signing one of the "March" books, and please I know everybody wants to get a selfie, but please do not ask the congressman to take a picture, nor ask him to stand or anything like that. If you wanna surreptitiously get your moment, do it, but don't make it involved, okay? The signing will be downstairs. Enter from the east side staircase, and please do remember everyone to turn off your cell phones. And now, for a proper introduction of Congressman Lewis and our guests today, we had to get just the right man for the job. And we found someone, I think it's pretty good. He is not a stranger to the civil rights arena. He is someone who also serves our fair institution, he's on our board of regions, where he's led the fight for tuition equality, through the Go Blue Guarantee, which begins next year, I might add. Mark Bernstein, he's an alumni from the University of Michigan. He is managing partner of the Sam Bernstein law firm. He previously served in the White House under President Clinton. He has served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, as its longest serving member. During his tenure, he led a crackdown on hate groups, helped establish the Michigan Civil Rights Academy, and convened the Michigan Civil Rights summit. He currently serves on the board of directors of Detroit Public Television, the Executive Board of the Michigan Association for Justice, and was elected by both defense and plaintiff attorneys to serve on the state bar of Michigan Negligence Council. Please welcome, U of M Regent, Mark Bernstein. Thank you Christina. We all know, we all know, that the Civil Rights Movement is far from over, and never will be, until we fully honor our aspirations for a more fair, just, and compassionate society. And that is why we are here tonight. To teach this fact and to celebrate the extraordinary work of Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Their collaboration, The "March" Trilogy, chronicles the Civil Rights Movement in a powerful and captivating way. It exemplifies creativity at work in the world. The application of design to teach and transform. Indeed, the New York Times observed about the "March" Trilogy and I quote, "'March' is more movement blueprint than civil rights monument." It continued, quote, "Young people deserve a future in which they can conceive of their own participation, and this requires a past, that however long the shadow of its achievements begins at their scale." Which is exactly, exactly where the brilliance of Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell shines. President Bill Clinton observed that their work, quote, "Brought a whole new generation with John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge." I'm glad Andrew Aydin grew up reading comics. Andrew is the creator and co author of the "March" Trilogy. "March" is the first graphic novel to ever win the National Book Award. Congressman Lewis mentioned to Andrew the 1957 comic book, "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story", and the role that it played, this comic, in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. Recognizing the potential for a comic on Congressman Lewis's life to inspire young people, Andrew, who you will meet in a second, urged Congressman Lewis to write a comic about this time, his time in the movement. Congressman Lewis agreed but had one condition, that Andrew write it with him. And in 2013 as a result the "March" Trilogy was born. Andrew has won, to name a few, the National Book Award for Young People's literature, the Sibert Medal, the Prince Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award. All this while during his day job he works with Congressman Lewis as his digital director and policy advisor. Graphic novels, of course, require graphics, and that's where the brilliance of Nate Powell comes in. Nate began self publishing at age 14, and since then, in addition to "March", his work includes, "You Don't Say", "Any Empire", "Swallow me Whole", "The Silence of our Friend", and "The Year of the Beast". He is the first and only cartoonist to ever win the National Book Award. He has also won the RFK Book Award, two Ignatz Awards, two Harvey Awards, three Eisner Awards and four Yalsa selections. Now, let us gather our minds around the life of Congressman John Lewis. Born the son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis's childhood was filled with deeply challenging and inspirational moments, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in the words of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr heard on the radio. As a college student he was chairman of SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. He was one of the big, six leaders of groups that organized the 1963 march on Washington. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained and remains a devoted advocate of the philosophy of non violence. In 1981 he was elected to the Atlanta City Council and in 1986, he was elected to Congress and has served as US representative, Georgia's fifth Congressional District since then. He has been awarded, over 75 honorary degrees. He is a recipient of numerous awards from eminent national and international institutions including the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor granted by president Barack Obama. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won Lewis the admiration of colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in the United States Congress. He has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls, "The beloved community" in America. Congressman John Lewis' life in the "March" Trilogy reminds us that we are always becoming something. As individuals, as a university, as a nation. Congressman Lewis' life and his work inspires us to become more. More just, more fair, more compassionate, more inclusive, more brave, more courageous. Please join me, in welcoming Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, to the University of Michigan. Thank you so much for those kind words of introduction. I must say that I'm delighted, very pleased and happy, really honored to be here. You're beautiful. You're handsome. Just a good looking audience. Good to be here, at this great university. I don't think I've been here since the 60s. But it's good to be back. Good to be back. Wonderful president, wonderful deans, wonderful faculty members, staff and I know that you're the best students ever. You're beyond that. "You're beyond that," okay. Well, I didn't grow up in a big city, like Grand Rapids and Auburn, Lansing, Detroit. You heard in the introduction I grew up in rural Alabama. 50 Miles from Montgomery. Outside of a little place called Troy. Okay? That's okay. You heard that my father was a sharecropper, a tiny farmer. But back in 1944, when I was four years old, now, how many of you remember when you were four? What happened to the rest of us? Well, in 1944, when I was four years old, my father had saved $300. And a man sold him 110 acres of land, my family still own this land today. Andrew and Nate will tell you that when I was a little child, growing up on that farm, I would visit the little town of Troy. Visit Montgomery, visit Tuskegee, visit Birmingham, and I would ask my mother and my father and my grandparents, my great grand parents, about the signs that I saw. The signs that said, "White men, colored men, white women, colored women, white ____ colored ____" They would say, "Boy, that's the way it is. Don't get in the way, don't get in trouble." But I was inspired to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble. Growing up on that farm sometime I'd be out there working in the field. Picking cotton. Pulling corn. Gathering peanuts. And my mother would say, "Boy, you need to catch up, you're falling behind." And I would say, "This is hard work." And she would say, "Hard work never killed anybody." I said, "Well, it's about to kill me." Now, if we go back for a little moment, Andrew and Nate would tell you that I'm probably jumping ahead here. But as a little child growing up, I fell in love with raising chickens. Any of you know anything about raising chicken? You don't know anything about raising chicken. So I know you're smart, I know you're gifted, but you don't know anything about raising chickens. When I was a little boy, I fell in love with raising chickens. If you read "March" book one, you'll know ____. I would take the fresh eggs, mark them with a pencil, place them under this sitting hen and wait for 3 long weeks for the little chicks to hatch. I know some of your smart students are saying, "Now John Lewis why did you mark those fresh eggs with a pencil before placing them under the sitting hen"? Well from time to time another hen be getting on that same nest and they'll be some more fresh eggs. You had to be able to tell the fresh eggs from the eggs that were already under the sitting hen. You follow me? Well I was never quite able to save $18.98 to order the most inexpensive incubator from the Sears and Roebuck store. I know you young students, you don't know anything about the Sears and Roebuck store. The Sears and Roebuck catalog. Some people called it the ordering book. Other people called it a wish book. "I wish I had this, I wish I had that." So I just kept on wishing. But as a little child of about eight or nine years old I became very good at raising chickens. But I wanted to be a minister. So with the help of my brothers and sisters and cousins we would gather up all of our chickens together in the chicken yard like you're gathered here in this beautiful magnificent building. And I would start preaching to the chickens. And I would preach to these chickens. Some of the chickens would bow their heads. Some of the chickens would shake their heads. They never quite said amen. But I'm convinced that some of those chickens that I preached to during the 40s and 50s tended to listen to me much better then some of my colleagues listen to me today in the Congress. Now I understand one of my colleagues is here tonight. Debbie Dingell is here. Debbie Dingell is one of the best. She always listens and always doing the right thing. Thank you Debbie for being here. As a matter of fact some of those chickens that I raised was a little more productive. At least they produced eggs. Debbie will tell you about the Congress later. When we were growing up, as a young child in 1955, 15 years old in the 10th grade, I heard about Rosa Parks. I heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr on our radio. The action of Rosa Parks and the words of Dr King inspired me to find a way to get in the way. And I got in the way. I got in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble. So when I was very very young, I wrote a letter to Dr King. He wrote me back. He sent me a round trip Greyhound bus ticket. Invited me to come to Montgomery to meet with him. I applied to enter a little school called Troy State College, now known as Troy University. It didn't admit black students. So I was accepted at a little college in Nashville Tennessee known now as American Baptist College. Submitted my application, my high school transcript and went off to school. An uncle of mine gave me $100 bill more money than I'd ever had. Gave me a foot locker. I put everything that I owned in that foot locker, except no chickens, and took a Greyhound bus to Nashville. And after being there for about two weeks, I told one of my teachers that I have been in contact with Dr Martin Luther King Jr. He informed Dr King that I was there. This teacher had studied with Dr King at Morehouse College in Atlanta. So in March of 1958, when I was home for spring break, I boarded a bus. I traveled the 50 miles from Troy to Montgomery. A young lawyer by the name of Fred Gray who had been a lawyer for Rosa Parks, to Dr King and the Montgomery Movement, met me at the Greyhound bus station and drove me to the First Baptist Church pastored by the Reverend Ralph Abernathy a colleague of Dr King. And ushered me into the office of the church. I saw Martin Luther King Jr and Ralph Abernathy standing behind the desk. And Dr King said to me "Are you the boy from Troy? Are you John Lewis?" I said "Dr King I am John Robert Lewis". I gave my whole name. I wanted him to be sure that I was the right person. And we had a wonderful discussion about the possibility of me going to Troy State. I went back and had a discussion with my mother and my father and told them what Dr King had said. That we may have to sue the state of Alabama, Troy State University. Our home could be bombed or burned. We could lose the land. So they were so afraid, I continued to study in Nashville. "March", book one will tell you that during those days in Nashville many of us started attending non violent workshops. We studied the philosophy and the discipline of non violence. We studied the whole idea of building the beloved community. Making Nashville an open city. Black and white high school students and college students, would come together every Tuesday night at 6:30 PM, Memphis University, had role playing, social drama. Then we started sitting in. We had 10 sit ins. In the fall and winter of 1959, that's when the sit ins started in Greensboro, North Carolina in February 1960, we started sitting down. Be sitting down in an orderly, peaceful, non violent fashion, waiting to be served and someone would come up and spit on us, or put a lighted cigarette out in our hair or down our backs, pour hot water, hot coffee, hot chocolate on us, beat us. One day we were told if we continued to sit in, we would get arrested. We would go to jail. Never been arrested, never gone to jail. I wanted to look what students back then called fresh, you've heard that? I wanted to look fresh. I wanted to look clean. I wanted to look sharp. I had very little money. So I went to a used men's store in downtown Nashville and bought a suit, a used suit. On February the 27th, 1960, 89 of us were arrested, black and white college students from Fisk University, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Fisk, Meharry Medical College, American Baptist College. The moment I was arrested and taken to jail, I felt free. I felt liberated. I felt like I had crossed over. So during the '60s, I was arrested 40 times and since I've been in congress, another five times and I'm probably gonna get arrested again for something. My philosophy, "March" is saying and my philosophy is saying if when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to stand up and say something, do something, speak up, speak out. In this day and age, we need to be brave, courageous and bold. There are forces in America today that's trying to take us back. We've come to far, we've made too much progress and we're not going back, we're going forward. When we were planning the march on Washington for August 28, 1963, there was a man by the name of A. Philip Randolph, was the dean of black leadership. This man was born in Jacksonville, Florida, moved to New York City, became a champion of civil rights, human rights and labor rights. He would say to all of us from time to time, "Maybe our foremothers and our forefathers all came to this great land in different ships, but we're all in the same boat now" that is still true today. So it doesn't matter whether we're black or white, Latino, Asian American, or Native American. Doesn't matter whether they're straight or gay, we are one people, we are one family. We all live in the same house, not just American house but the world house. Martin Luther King Jr put it another way and I'm honored to be here, to be standing in a place where he stood in 1962. But Dr King would say over and over again "we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, if not we will perish as fools". This University has a rich history, you represent the best. You, the students, the young people must be the leaders of the 21st century. You must get us there. You must have saved not just America but have saved the planet. I've said to students from time to time and to some of my colleagues, we have a right to know what is in the food we eat. We have a right to know what is in the water we drink. We have a right to know what is in the air we breathe. This little piece of real estate we call Earth is not ours to waste but to leave it a little cleaner, a little more peaceful for generations yet unborn, that is our calling. If we fail to do it, who will do it? During the '60s we hadn't heard of the internet. Facebook? What is that? Andrew knew a great deal about the use of social media, he used it well. But I tell you, if it hadn't been for Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks and hundreds of thousands of others, I don't know where we will be, but out of this community, out of this State of Michigan, out of this city, out of this university, many young people emerge. Just think in 1961, the same year that President Barack Obama was born, black people and white people in 1961 couldn't be seated together on a Greyhound bus or a trailway bus leaving Washington DC to travel through the South. We were arrested, we were jailed and beaten, more than 400 of us, including college professors, college students, ministers, priests, rabbis, lawyers and doctors, just trying to bring down those signs. Those signs are gone. There maybe some invisible sign, but those signs are gone and the only place that you'll see those signs today would be in a book, in a museum or on a video. They are gone and they will not return. I say to you as students and young people, whatever you do, whatever you say, do it in a peaceful, orderly, non violent fashion. Never hate, for hate is too heavy a burden to bear. The way of love, the way of peace, is much better. Let me give you one example. On the Freedom Rides in 1961, my seat mate was a young white gentleman from Connecticut. We left Washington DC, arrived in a little town called Rocky Hill, South Carolina, we were beaten and left lying in a pool of blood. This was May 1961. In February '09, one of the people who beat us came to my Capitol Hill Office in Washington. He was in his 70's with his son in his 40's. He said, "Mr Lewis, I've been a member of the Klan, I beat you, but I come today to say, forgive me." His son started crying, he started crying. I said, "I forgive you. I accept your apology." They hugged me, I hugged them back and I cried. It's the power of the way of peace, the way of love. The power of the philosophy in the discipline of non violence. Is it possible for students and scholars to come together and teach us the way of love? The way of peace? Can we move to a different level and create a beloved community? Can we redeem the soul of America? Can we get it right here in America? Maybe we can be a model for the rest of the world, is that possible? Yeah. Let's try, let's do it. Let's do it. Can we do it? Yes. Yes. I wanna close by saying never ever give up. Never ever lose that sense of hope. Never lose faith. We will redeem the soul of America. We will create a beloved community, create a community at peace with itself. I'm honored to be here tonight with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, these two young men is like brothers. So it's all up to you two now. Thank you, thank you very much. How you follow that? My name is Andrew Aydin and I serve as Digital Director and Policy Advisor to the Congressman and I'm the co author of "March". Basically this is all my fault. When I say digital director that means I tweet for a living. You guys laugh but that's a big deal these days. Huge. A little bit about me, I was raised by a single mom. If you ever have the opportunity to see a single mother and thank her for all that she's doing. If you were raised my a single mother, thank her a lot. I'm also the child of a Muslim immigrant. My father was a Muslim immigrant which is great! Yeah, there's a lot of perks that come with being the child of a Muslim immigrant. TSA gives you all sorts of special attention. The president is always talking about you. It's awesome. Yeah, honestly, there's not very many of us on Capitol Hill. In fact, that's actually why I grew my beard out it's 'cause... Yeah, yeah, "woo" with the beard. I was really frustrated, it was a thing that I kept quiet. The only time you really knew is when you couldn't pronounce my last name. And all of us have something that is unique about ourselves. And for some of us it also carries a burden. And it is all too easy for us to be quiet. But when you stand on stage with John Lewis, you can't be quiet about those things. You have to speak up about them. And so, I tell you all the great things about being the child of a Muslim immigrant and I tell you what it is to work for John Lewis. How do we get here? It all started in 2008. It was the summer of hope and change. Barrack Obama was sweeping through the Democratic primaries and I was serving as the congressman's press secretary. I was newly promoted, I had been answering his mail which made me immensely qualified. It's actually... When my mom asked me what I did, I told her I answer a lot of "dear John" letters. True story. And so, it was coming out at the end of that campaign, and folks started talking about what they were gonna do after. Some folks said they were gonna go to the beach. Some said they were gonna go see their parents. And I said I was going to a comic book convention, which was really cool to me. But to everybody else, they laughed at me. Except for one person. I heard a deep voice say, "Don't laugh, there was a comic book during the movement and it was very influential." And it was John Lewis standing up for me as he's stood up for so many of us. The comic book was called "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." It's the first time I'd ever heard of it. I went home that night after work and I looked it up on the internet. And it was amazing to me, it was this beautiful 50s studio style comic. It talked about Martin Luther King, it talked about Gandhi, it was the best introduction in non violence I'd ever seen in 16 pages. Now, I had spent that summer hearing stories I'd never heard before. I grew up in the congressman's district. He's been my congressman since I was three years old in fact. And yet, after growing up in his district, after going to Atlanta public schools and ultimately a private school, nobody had ever told me the story of SNCC. Not until that summer. Not until I heard John Lewis say it himself. And I watched as young people's eyes lit up when they heard it, because it's not just a story about what happened, it's a story of power. It's a story about how young people can stand up against injustice, but more importantly, how young people have more power in our society than we ever give them credit for. And so I sat there looking at a comic book and I thought, "There should be a John Lewis comic book." Yeah. I went to work the next day and everybody's talking about about how do we reach young people. By this point I had convinced him to join Facebook. This other thing that they dubbed "the Tweeter" was coming. But we were on it, and everybody wanted to know. Barrack Obama reached more young people than any presidential candidate in a generation and everybody else wanted to know how or how they could do it better. And there was also this lingering question, this question of, "Why do young people not know about the Civil Rights Movement?" There is actually a term for it. It's called "the nine word problem." It's a term coined by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a sense most students graduate from high school only knowing nine words about the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, I have a dream. And that's it. Right? So we're having this conversation and they say, "Well how does John Lewis reach young people?" And I raise my hand. And I said, "John Lewis should write a comic book." And he was so sweet about it. A congressman. He kinda looked at me, everybody else is shaking their head. The congressman said "Oh well, maybe, yeah." But if you know me, you know that if I have an idea, and I get my teeth in it, I don't let go. So I kept asking. And I asked, just about everyday for the rest of that campaign. Until the congressman finally turned to me and he said, "Okay, I'll do it, but only if you write it with me." And that moment changed my life. So how do you get from there to here? Because if you do the dates, it was five years from that idea to book one coming out. There was no literary agent, there was no contract waiting for us. I had to come up with a title, I had to put together the pitch. I was going around to publishers all over New York. Everybody in congress thought I was crazy. I got more "No's" than Mitch McConnell. That was non violent. Alright. And finally, bless his heart, the congressman went to a comic book convention with me. I mean, this is not what you expect. Like is Dragon con, which is also the freaky of the comic book convention. He comes in to have lunch, and he's looking around all these people in costumes. He's like, "So this is what you do?" That congressman is great, these people love each other. And I kept telling him... The one thing that I love so much about comics is that it is an entire collection of people who share a love of reading. And that, that is who I am. That is who I was raised to be. My mother would take me to libraries a lot as a kid. We didn't have a lot of money but the library was free. And if you've ever heard the congressman national book award speech, remember, he wasn't let in the library and I was. And that's why I get to stand here at 34 and talk to you about my book. Alright. So he came, he came to this comic book convention. And actually it was really funny, because a comic book creator that I've been knowing since I was a little kid, like 12. He comes up to the congressman, he goes "Oh my god, you're a real celebrity." And I'm sitting there watching my childhood meet my adulthood. And he's like "Will you take a picture of the two of us?" I'm like, "Sure, this is super weird!" Anyway he said, "If you need anything give me a call." Not thinking I would ever call him. But I did. And so I called up the front desk at Marvel comics. And I said "I'm looking for Jimmy Palmiotti." They said, "Oh where are you calling from?" I said "The United States Congress." Pause. I don't know if you know but there was some hearings in the mid 50's it didn't go so well for the comic book industry. And they got really nervous. But Jimmy called me back. And he said "You know this publisher, it's called Top Shelf, I think you should call him." Turns out they were just up the road from Atlanta, and so I did. The guy made me write the whole first book on spec. But he published it and we found Nate and we came together and it was an experience... Well I'll pause and I'll say this. I'd never written a book before. I'd never written a comic book before. I'd written some radio scripts, some Tweets, some ads. This was a different beast. But if you're ever afraid of doing something for the first time, the best advice I can give you, is, go and see who did it well. And do your best to do it like they did. So I went and read, Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home, usual suspects. And this is great risk, because the whole time the congressman is taking grief from everybody on Capitol Hill. Why are you doing this comic book silliness? And I'm writing my graduate thesis at the same time, because I wanted a challenge, I wanted to go to grad school at night and write comics and work in Congress. But I was writing my graduate thesis on Martin Luther King and the Montgomery story. I wanted to know it's history. And one of the things that I found was that Martin Luther King Jr himself actually helped edit it. Kinda blows your mind. Martin Luther King Jr, comic book editor. But it showed me that we were on the path that had been walked before. He had used these comic books to inspire some of the earliest acts of civil disobedience, of the movement. And that's what we were trying to do. We weren't just making these comic books so that we could tell John Lewis's story. We were making them because we believed there needed to be a new non violent revolution in this country. We didn't know if it was gonna work. We didn't know if it was gonna work until just before book one came out. And I got a phone call from a reporter at a conservative news paper that shall remain nameless. Mm hmm. He said, "Look man, I got a copy of your book, and I loved it. I read it, I don't usually do this, but I gave it to my nine year old son and I wanted you to know that he read it and now he's gone, he's put on his Sunday suit, he's marching around my house demanding equality for everyone." Imagine if we instill the social consciousness in every nine year old in America. And let's not stop there. I think there is some other folks that need a social consciousness still. So that's what we're doing. I mentioned earlier that I tweet for a living, and what I wanna ask you is, when you think about these social media tools, think about what would Dr King tweet? What would Gandhi post? How would they use these tools? We're seeing them used for unbelievable evil, misinformation, but we're also seeing the potential for them to be used for good. You have the capacity to organize on a scale that the world has never seen before. Social media wasn't meant to be a news outlet. It was meant to be a way for us all to connect with each other. And there is no more important function of our connection than organizing for the betterment of our society. And so what we try to do in "March", is to lay out the fundamental principles. And it was not easy. John Lewis obviously had a day job. We would work at night. I would record his voice. I was constantly asking him questions. And he would stay up and sometimes on the other end of the line you'd just hear this little snore. You don't snore sir, I'm sorry. But sometimes it would be me too, in all fairness. But we spent months and years taking down the Congressman's words. Looking through primary sources. Which are more important now than you realize. For the students of the movement in the room, I strongly encourage you to visit It is the single best repository of primary documents from the Civil Rights Movement I have ever found. It surpasses any academic collection I have ever seen. And it's all free. And that's what we used, if you knew the scene at beginning of book three, where they map out the freedom summer and there's a whole dialogue. Nate calls it the council of ____. 'Cause he talks, there's a lot of talking. And you may ask yourself, "Did we dramatize that?", but we didn't. We took meeting minutes, because we were able to find them. And we used that to create the narrative. And there is so much more out there. We just scratched the surface. How many of your stories should be told that way? But more importantly, how many can you find that need to be elevated? I believe comics have that power because your generation, you are digital natives. You grew up on the internet, which means you speak in words and pictures. And so if we are going to teach you the fundamental lessons of the Civil Rights Movement, we have to do it in your language. Let's assume, that all happened. That you guys understand the principles and you are ready to organize. And there is so much going on in this world that we need to address. Where do I think you need to start? What is the one issue, that if we address first, not necessary that it is the worst atrocity going on in our society, but that will open up more doors for everyone. It is student loans. Took me three best sellers to pay off mine. You shouldn't have to do that. That is too hard. But more importantly, where would we have been if the young people of the Civil Rights Movement had had student loans. If John Lewis, had had to go to work, instead of take the chairmanship of SNCC after he graduated. There would be no Civil Rights Act. There would be no Voting Rights Acts. Let me put it to you in another way. When John Lewis got married, in 1968, the wedding announcement read, "Lillian Miles to wed unemployed political activist John Lewis." People who are ahead of their time pay a price. And we must lift the burden of debt. So that another generation is free to pay that price for us. Alright, I'm gonna tell you one more story. When I was in high school, I was in my English class, and I would bring my comic books with me, and I got caught one day with them out on my desk, and my English teacher came by. She said, "I'm sorry. You can't have those out right now. Those aren't real books." No, no. Well, I got to go back to my high school. And I got to have a wonderful conversation with that very same teacher about her experiences teaching "March" in her classroom. I don't offer that story as a form of comeuppance to the teacher. She's doing the Lord's work, and frankly, she was expressing the prevailing wisdom of the time, but I offer it as an example of the power of an idea whose time has come, and the brief period in which change is possible. So I ask all of you, "Join us. March." Hey, everybody. How's it going? I'm the third guy. Now, just to put you at ease, if I don't get a standing ovation, it's okay. I'll save my tears for backstage. It's cool. It's fine. I'm also the least polished, and that's the dude with the notes. That's fine. These are new ideas that I've consolidated into words in the last couple of months, so it's time for new ideas to come to light. Okay, first off, thank you for being here and thanks for having us. I spent some time living in Michigan back in 2001 and 2002. I've played a lot of music and played a lot of shows throughout the state over the years, and Michigan remains one of my favorite states and holds a very special place in my heart, so really glad to be here. So I was born in '78, and I'm from Arkansas... And... Right on. I spent a lot of my elementary school years in Montgomery, Alabama. Yes. And my parents are baby boomers from Northern Mississippi. Growing up in the... In the mid 1980s, I did grow up with a very basic working knowledge of just key moments and figures in the Civil Rights Movement, and very basic, but it served its function. Most of this was through my parents, whether it was historical information or personal anecdotes that helped complete the picture of their lives as people growing up in and through what is recognized as the end of the Jim Crow south. Hearing these stories in Montgomery Alabama... Most of them were often punctuated at the time with this caveat, this exception, where they'd be like, "Oh, but that was a different time. This is not that. These are not the droids you're looking for." I didn't have the vocabulary for it at the time, but it was hard to reconcile that exception they were offering to each of these stories because sometimes the historical information that I was receiving or even what I was learning through photography and video throughout the movement was depicting events that were happening three miles down the street from my house in downtown Montgomery, locations I had visited, places with which I was familiar throughout the Deep South, and yet the documentation of those events... Really stuff that's happening just 10 to 15 years before I was born, and looking back at age 39, you can touch 10 years, that's nothing. But it had this layer of unreality to it and this exception they would offer, that "it was a different time" was sabotaging their own intention by giving it this abstract quality, and it removed the sense of continuity that these were the struggles and experiences of people who could've been or were my neighbors, who could've been a part of my family, and in 3a different world, could've been me, and likewise, the perpetrators of that injustice could've been, and possibly were, my neighbors, members of my family could have been me. And so growing up I would reconcile that with... Often Congressman Lewis will say, "If you want to come up to me and you want to tell me how things haven't changed, I'll say, 'Come walk in my shoes and I will show you change.'" And I take that to heart and I line it up with that little exception my parents would give. And as we moved into our work on "March" it sort of became my personal mission to destroy that layer of abstraction from that grainy black and white photography and black and white video, to destroy that layer of unreality and underline a sense of continuity. Not only that we were occupying the same world as the documentation with which we had become quite familiar but also that the struggle itself, that the movement itself is an ongoing struggle, an intergenerational struggle. A struggle of many lifetimes. And I'm proud to be a part of conveying that. So, I've been publishing comics for 25 years. And the crappy self published comics I did as a teenager, in a lot of ways, I consider that to be the same work that I'm doing now, filtered through a different lens and everything. I'm really proud for "March" to be a part of helping squash the debate within our country about legitimacy of comics as an art form, as a means of storytelling, as a legitimate form of literature. It's awesome to be a part of that. But at the same time I wanna stick up for the superhero comics which shaped me. We comics people have spent a lot of time, I think, rightly so I guess, to legitimize our art form, being like, there are always newspaper articles and magazine articles, they are like, "Whoa, zapp, bang, pow, comics aren't just for kids anymore." But really Chris Claremont's run on the X Men in the 1980s is basically the thing that activated my social conscience in full. And getting to perceive the world which we share through the lens of a fantasy world, through a cast of characters, getting to recognize different dimensions of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism, through these mutant adventures was profoundly affecting. So, if this is your first graphic novel or if this is your intro to comics, welcome. But, spend some time here. Comics have changed my life time and time again throughout my entire life. So, please read some comics, ya'll. Go to the library, it's free. And moving ahead into our collaboration on "March", I think, relatively speaking until very recently, I shared an assumption with many people that the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, the social, the civic, the legislative gains were universally accepted and acknowledged so much so that their existence and those victories themselves are taken for granted. And in real time I think throughout the trilogy but also throughout my adult life, I've watched, whether it's conventional wisdom and public opinion or whether it's specific individuals with some kind of vested self interest or agenda, rush to line up on the right side of history after the fact. But only after simplifying and revising the history of the movement so much as to de fang it. And another... So that became another guiding principle than "March" was how to show the internal conflicts, intergenerational conflicts. How to show shifts in philosophy, strategy, tactics. How to show that revolution and that progress that social change is messy, it's inconvenient, and it's also necessary. All of these things are true. And there are so many causes to fight for and against each day, every day. It is overwhelming, it's disheartening. It fills you with anxiety and doom and dread. And over time, a lot of it comes to learning once again to trust that there are millions of other people like you who feel the same way about those causes. Learning to rely on your ability to pick those causes which you are passionate about and pursue them and put a little more energy into them and trust that there's another you out there and there are millions of other little you's out there with parallel concerns and trust other people to follow those causes as well. And in selecting those battles and selecting those causes I've kinda found myself full circle with Andrew and with Congressmen Lewis' guiding principle in 2008, 2009 at the genesis of "March". When Andrew was talking about being a staffer and hearing all of these stories of the movement, questions going around throughout the campaign, in the office, amidst your circle, how do we activate young people? How do we re present the history of the movement? How do we revitalize it for a new generation and for a new world? Throughout these last five years of work, I really have circled around to the imperative of civil rights education. And it is difficult to pick courses in which to invest how much time and energy. But there is an urgency to providing truthful historical contextualize accounts of American struggles for equality in representation. And yes, all students need a good civil rights education. And we must continue these active efforts to show the movement in context with struggles for women's rights, for workers rights, for LGBTQ rights and so on. Now, on its face, that concept seems like such a no brainer that many folks, even a majority, and we are all guilty to a degree. Will discount it with the assumption that just providing that history itself, isn't a present day problem. But here's the thing, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has given 20 states an F on their civil rights education and several of those actually require non whatsoever. And even growing up in the south, when we were discussing the nine word problem in which most kids graduate from high school knowing Roser Parks, Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream". I graduated from high school in Arkansas and we never even got to civil rights in eighth grade or 11th grade American history, 'cause we ran out of time. I know how it is. And it's not just a matter of the history itself, it's not just about letting people of all kinds see heroes who look like them. It is about seeing connections between seemingly different struggles and seeing actual equality as being in everyone's interest. That shouldn't be a controversial statement but it's a very dangerous idea to those in power. Now, when we do provide that rich history, we disrupt the dominant narrative of leaders and figure heads passing change down from the mountain top. That was one of our guiding principles, and one of our missions throughout "March". When we do tell that rich history, that complicated, that messy history. What is told is thousands of people, millions of hours of thankless, frustrating, risky, unsexy work, people with different philosophies and ideals finding a way to meet their common objectives. What is told is young people risking their lives to put their ideals into action to shape the fabric of our society further than their elders had oftentimes. What is told, is the crucial role played by dedicated journalists acting on behalf of a free press and the public's relationship to that media itself as history unfolds. And that is something I really took for granted before "March". That was a real wake up call for me, going through the research and then getting to the drawing table and then seeing the script with new eyes, re evaluating the research and understanding just how explicit the strategy of contacting and developing a relationship with the media before, during and after actions, to say, "We will be here at this time, at this place for this reason. This is our expected outcome, here is our contact." And then following through. What is told, is comfortable white people driven by either their conscience or by social pressure or some combination of the two to admit to fundamental injustices, to their role within it. And ultimately participating on some level in rectifying them. That's not gonna happen by itself. What is told is a disciplined movement, balancing its philosophy of organized, dedicated non violence with the reality of rural black southerners lives which often required an armed self defense stance, to protect their families from white supremacy's terror. And I think this is one of the messiest and most inconvenient truths of the history of the movement, but it's essential to understand the situation on the ground throughout America. And most important, what is told is that inequality is not something that's fixed once, it requires constant vigilance. And the arc of the moral universe, only bends toward justice when we bend it. So to wrap this up and to take it back to the beginning of my involvement with "March", I think right after that, what was so affecting to me was... Just even in my first read of "Walking with the Wind", I immediately within 20 pages, identified so strongly with John Louis as a six year old on a farm in Central Alabama. Specifically, the gravity and the intensity with which he viewed the world around him. And his ability to recognize injustice on a small scale, and then, that expanding as his worldview expanded. I felt precisely the same way as a six year old, and I think most people do, and I think a lot of our world and a lot of the systems which control us, work very hard at whittling away at those edges, whittling away that sensitivity to injustice, and the ways in which we perceive it all around us. Now, I have two daughters. My oldest one is about to turn six and it's wild. By the time a kid is four, I've been able to see that that's when my daughter started requested reading Book One as part of her bedtime read, right when she turned four. And each read, I've been able to get more concrete, and more specific, as her world view expands to meet the world around her. But even at age four, kids have a very clear cut understanding of fairness and of injustice. They have encountered bullies in their life, and soon after that, they understand, and have experienced, or witnessed injustice based on difference. These function on a very basic, simple level, in addition to a very complex adult level that we experience, but it is the same issue. And ultimately, I think what's most important, is to take that forward, and take that identification with a young John Lewis and his teenage peers, his young adult peers, and be able to say, "Look, this is what a dedicated, thoughtful, committed group of young people were able to do at age 20." And not even at age 20, they could do this, but as Andrew was pointing out, especially because they were 20. And so, it forces me to look back, and be like, "Well, what was I doing when I was 20?" Or, "What did I think I was doing?" And for those of us who are not yet 20, it poses a challenge and a question, "What will you do when you are 20?" And the good news is, you get to decide that, and only you get to decide that, but this is not a drill, and it never was. Thanks y'all. Thanks. I've got this... Guys, we're gonna take some questions. But they are preselected. Yes. Yes. Our first question is right here. Hi, my name is Madison Chasen. I'm a junior at the University of Michigan in the College of LS&A. My question is for the congressman, but could also be posed to all three of you with reference to your own life experiences. Congressman, you've experienced things beyond what most of us could even imagine, and have accomplished so much, as both a activist and a political leader. Looking back on the things that you've done and the choices that you've made, do you have any regrets? Would you change anything and why? Well, I first met Dr King in 1958 when I was 18 years old. First heard of him in 1955 when I was 15. I wish, somehow, when I look back, that I had spent more time with him. He inspired me. If it hadn't been for Martin Luther King Jr, I don't know where I would be. Thank you. He taught us the way of peace, the way of love, taught us the philosophy and the discipline of non violence. But we thought he would be around for a long time. He was so young when he was taken from us. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, so Congressman Lewis, I would like to personally thank you on behalf of me and my peers. And basically, we would like to say thank you for devoting your life to helping others through the work that you've done politically, and socially, and through your words as a speaker, and now, through the book series "The March". Yeah, thank you. We are the next generation. We are juniors in high school and we will still soon be stepping into the adult world. What you have fought against and dealt with has probably, ____ back up around what we ____, so how do I and my generation, how do we prepare ourselves to fight against what you fought against? Well, I would say to you, to the members of your generation, "Learn as much as you can." Yup. When I was in school, I had a teacher who said to me over and over again, "Read, my child, read." We had very few books in our home, 'cause we grew up very, very poor. We didn't have a subscription to the local newspaper, but my grandfather had one. And when he would finish reading his newspaper each day, he would pass it on to us, so I kept up with current events. Keep up. And when you see a need to say something, to do something, speak up, speak out. Thank you. Hi. I just wanted to say, first of all, thank you all for coming. We all really appreciate you guys being here and speaking to us. Secondly, my question for you, Congressman John Lewis is, what are some similarities and differences you see between young civil rights activist versus the activists you see in my generation? And what is some advice you can give to these activist who wanna follow in your footsteps? It's a very good... Statement, very good question. Be at home with yourself, be at home with yourself. Sometimes maybe you should have what I call an executive session with yourself, just don't talk back to yourself... Maybe you can just say "You know, this is the path I'm going to take, this is what I'm going to do. But I'm gonna be open, candid and honest." Get involved in American politics, one day, one of you maybe, just maybe, could be governor of a state, a member of Congress, or president of the United States of America. Or a wonderful teacher, wonderful lawyer, wonderful doctor. So never ever give up on yourself, we all have the potential to become better. Thank you. Hello. I just wanna first say, thank you guys so much for coming out tonight. I know, like she said, we all sincerely appreciate it. My name is Christopher Platty, and I'm a freshman here at University of Michigan. And my question to you John Lewis is, in the next 20 to 30 years what would you personally like to see changed in the United States in regard of equality and also the discrimination still felt today by many minorities, and from a more general perspective, the world? Well, in the next 20 or 30 years, I don't where I'll be, but I tell you, I would like to see a free America, a better America, a better world, that we have to lay down the tools and instruments of violence. There's not any room for violence. We spend hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of dollars on guns, on missiles, on bombs. We need to teach people the way of peace, the way of love. The philosophy of ____. Thank you. My name is Sher Wei Ling and I'm a junior here at University of Michigan. My question for Congressman Lewis is, racism in this country in the last century were known around the world to be very militant and aggressive. When I was growing up in China, the high school history classes I had, Civil Rights Movement spent half of its paragraphs to talk about all the violence, lynching and the racial riots that happened in the 50's and 60's. Congressman, when you joined the Civil Rights Movement, why did you choose to confront violence in a non violent way and how did you keep faith in your choice? Thank you. We studied the life and teaching of Gandhi, passive resistance, we wanted to create a society of peace with itself. We wanted to create what we called the beloved community. And lay down the burden of hate. To bring people together. It was embedded in us. When I was beaten and left bloody on the bridge in Selma, I thought I saw death, I thought I was going to die, but I knew that being beaten and other people had been beaten, 17 of us are hospitalized, that somehow and some way, we wanted to open up the political process, make it possible for everybody to become participants in a democratic process. There were black lawyers and doctors and teachers, college professors, college presidents, who were told they could not read or write well enough. They failed the so called literacy test. People were asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap, the number of jelly beans in a jar, so we had to change that. Andrew you wanna add something? Nate wanna add something? We gonna have this in retrospect. But, there's actually been a term out of academics study about how racially oppressed minorities can stand up. And the evidence is overwhelmingly that non violence is the only solution. I remember I said this one time, and somebody came back to me and said, "But the American Revolution"... I was like, "Yeah, white people." And what we're talking about is fundamentally different because racial oppression has a certain edge to it, that requires almost a "holier than thou" approach. Because it is... There's too many guns in this country to being with, but fundamentally the data backs it up. If you're looking at it from this day and age. And it isn't overwhelming, you're still up against really tough odds. Well the statistic that you've brought to light for me... It's important to recognize that successful struggles are still uphill struggles. The statistic that you've thrown around is basically that non violence works about a third of the time, it's important to not lose sight of that. That's what requires the months, the years, the generations of work to actually get those incremental gains and maintain them. One out of three over the long run gets you where you're going and I know that's not encouraging in some ways, but if that's a statistical truth, it's important to bring that to light. Thank you. Thank you all for your answers. Hello. I wanna thank you all for just coming and spending the time to talk with us tonight. My name's Emily Cruise Harvey and I'm representing "The March book club" at the school of education and some of my colleagues are over there. Just wanna give them a shout. We've had discussions about "March" and I'm really interested in how you guys feel about this. We were talking about the fact that we have so many talented people across the nation, including on our very own campus that are activist leaders. But it seems that sometimes our leadership across the nation is not necessarily in dialogue with one another, and in your graphic novels, their strategic coordination of activism across the federal, state and community levels, as well as activist organizations. Our question is, how do we create a system of strategic coordination across these different levels where activism is occurring but seemingly uncoordinated? During the day and age of social media, it should be easier. Really, it really should be. When I was growing up... We didn't... Do you know anything about party line on the telephone? Can you just teach us ____ right now? Just teach me. Party line? Several people on the same line, several families and you could eavesdrop sometimes. Or you had to wait till someone gave up their line? Mm hmm. But now everybody, everybody, even little kids are talking on the telephone. We should be able to do a much better job in organizing and bringing people together. The Women March, in my estimation ____... One of the most amazing and unbelievable coming together in such a short time. That's why I truly believe, years to come, and next year in particular, will be the year of the woman. Look, too many young people, too many of us, too many young people fail to get out and participate in the democratic process. We got to vote, like we never voted before. Three young men that I knew, Andy Goodman, Mika Schwerner, and James Chaney working in Mississippi in June of 1964, these three young men went out to investigate the burning of an African American church to be used for voter registration workshop. They were stopped by the sheriff, taken to jail, released from jail, turned over the Klan where they were beaten shot and killed, and I tell young people all the time, these three young men didn't die in Vietnam or the Middle East or Eastern Europe or in Africa or Central or South America, they died right here in our own country. That's why we got to vote like we never voted before. All of us. Part of the reason we spent so much time in the books explaining the ways in which SNCC was organized, the ways in which records were kept, the ways in which they interacted with each other. You know how as we always refer to like, "Well then we had an executive committee meeting. And we're showing you point by point how they formed their organization." The leaderless movement isn't going to function. You need spokespeople, you need organization, it doesn't necessarily have to be a cult of personality, but ask yourselves, today we have the NAACP still, we have the Urban League, we have these same organizations that were around during the movement but we don't have SNCC. And so what we've been trying to do is to inspire the young people to indigenously form their own SNCC for this generation. And to a certain extent it is happening, but it's changing just like the technology. Now we have the hashtag "black lives matter" and thankfully the courts proved to us that you can't sue a hashtag. And so it's changing, it's developing, it doesn't mean we've reached the final form of this, but I think our role, all of us, particularly educators and those of us who are telling the stories, is to instill the fundamental principles and to be that subtle nudge and encouragement. Someone's still gonna fill the role of Ella Baker, or Jim Lawson, and shepherd these young people into forming that organization. Thank you. Well, also on that note, yeah. I think often it's very easy for all of us, as Americans, to be stuck in a mode of thinking about top down hierarchical power structures. And it's amazing to learn about the tale of SNCC and intentionally decentralized non hierarchical structure that a certain point of energy and mass density recognized that to establish itself and to further it's goals, yeah specific responsibilities were delegated, roles had to be played and maintained, even in a vaguely non hierarchical structure. And for me, as a part of my generation, coming from activism through punk and more of a socialist anarchist perspective, younger life and being well acquainted with different kinds of non hierarchical models, still to organize and mobilize, it involves that same principle of recognizing that people have a job to do and that doesn't necessarily make it a top down power structure. But at a certain point in the life span of a decentralized unit those roles must be taken on in order to expand. Thank you so much. Good evening. My name's Simon Rivers and I'm here speaking on behalf of many staff and faculty of The University of Michigan. Congressman Lewis, you are a hero to many of us here, including me, so thank you all for being here tonight. Recently, The University of Michigan Administration decided to consider allowing the prominent white supremacist whose name I will not utter, I won't give him that satisfaction. The university decided to allow him to speak on campus sometime in the future. A decision that many university community members disagree with. My question is this, how do we react or respond? Do we engage in protest or do we just simply ignore his hatred? Well, in a university, a public space, people have the right to speak, right? The right to protest, the right to speak. Dr King said from time to time, "the time is always right to do right". So I would advise the students and the university community, whatever you do, do it in an orderly, peaceful, non violent fashion. Listen. The University is supposed to be a place of learning, debating, but never try to silence someone. People didn't want us to march from Selma to Montgomery. There were people who didn't want us to march on Washington. There were people who didn't want us to sit in. There are people didn't want us to take over the floor of the House on gun violence. But we did it, in an orderly, peaceful, non violent fashion. And I think you send a stronger message and sometimes when you have hate groups and others, sometimes silence is best. You can send a powerful message. But as I said earlier, whatever you do, do it in an orderly, peaceful, non violent fashion. Thank you sir. And you will have the victory. Thank you sir. Just a bit ago we were discussing this and I think you made a very good point about organized white supremacist groups learning lessons from and employing tactics and strategies from the left throughout history, but specifically tactics which really crystallized and used to their best advantage throughout the movement. It's important to recognize that when... Choosing what to do, but also to recognize within that, within the role, within the strategies of the movement, understanding that relationship to media. Understanding how strong PR and media access is for the white supremacist right. And so definitely take into measure, in a lot of ways, it is a lose lose situation, but trying to minimize a certain level of press which is immediately weaponized really in either case regardless of outcome. But I think because living in Indiana, I'm going to find out about how things unfold in Ann Arbor thanks to media coverage. It's to recognize that the waves that any action or counteraction ____ will be determined by the coverage of that event. And recognize that already at the stage, organized white supremacy works very hard to weaponize that. Even before there's a public movement, before there's a plan, before a space is booked. It is an information war, it is a media war, it's a PR war. And so recognize that those are weapons and they're powerful weapons and use that wisely both in protest and in constructive action. Could I just make a further point? During the Freedom Rides in May of 1961, when we arrived at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery, the Freedom Rider were orderly, peaceful. Angry mob started first beating members of the press, the reporters. So if you had a notepad, if you have a camera they beat you. Destroyed the cameras. And then they turn on the Freedom Riders. These are members of the Klan that beat us, left us bloody. But if it hadn't been for the press, the Civil Rights Movement, would've been like a bird without wings. Andrew you wanna do something? It seem like you're eager and anxious. Look, they're trying to provoke the campus the way the movement provoked Bull Connor, or the way the movement provoked Jim Clark. And they're using the tactics in reverse. And they're well educated and they're well informed. But the difference is that 55 years ago the white supremacist was governor. I didn't say he was president! So there's a phrase, there's a portion a couple of times in "March" where it says that "Violence met with non violence spends itself quickly." And I think what we're seeing is a concentrated effort to go around the country and try and find a target. Somebody who's willing to step up and be hit. To pick that fight. And I have this really terrible thing that my mom used to say to me... It uses a dirty word, so I can't say it. But the gist is, if somebody is giving you guff, don't catch it. You know what I mean? Yeah. Leave it there. Thank you. Good evening, my name is Serena Varner, and I'm a senior at Washtenaw International High School. On behalf of myself and fellow classmates here I'd like to thank you all for your work and being here. It's an honor to share this space with you. Reading The "March" Trilogy some of my favorite portions were of the specific glimpses that we got into your lives especially as a child. Some of the simple stuff like you living on a farm and preaching to chickens. I thought that just showed a lot of your humanity and so with reference to that my question is: How do you feel about the way we discuss the Civil Rights Movement in schools and outside? More specifically I feel like figures such as yourself are spoken about in a heroic manner and while the change you have pioneered is undoubtedly deserving of admiration and gratitude, I'm curious to know if this pedestal that we put you on, through this glorification, ever makes you feel separated or isolated from humanity, just on the other end of the spectrum. I grew up like an ordinary poor child and came under the influence of Dr King and the action of Rosa Parks the Little Rock Nine. And I just tried to help out. I call it something, maybe historian, probably call it something else, but... Sometime the spirit of history just pick you and say, "You go there or you go there, you say this you say that, you speak up, you speak out," and sometime you have to let it lead you. But I spent many hours, Andrew will tell you. People in Atlanta will tell you also, that children, those children, I go to school with elementary school kids, I get down on the floor, I get on my knees, and talk to them and they ask me a lot of questions. A lot of these young people read "March". They heard stories, they watch films and... I just talk to them. And say, "You, too can do something. You, too, can make a contribution." I go to into schools in Atlanta, elementary school, would look like the United Nation. People of all backgrounds. And sometime I say to myself, "I wish Dr King can see Atlanta, now." So we all can do something. We all can just be a little more human. So that's what I try to preach. Just be human. Thank you. The chickens taught me a lesson. And I used to tell some of them, "You be still, stop fighting," and... I preached on. And if one would die. We would have a chicken funeral. Thank you. Yeah, yeah, thank you. Help me up Andrew. I was ____... Sometimes he does feel himself. He'll call you and he'll be like, "I was so good last night." But then the next time you call him, it would be like, "What are you doing?" And he's like, "I'm at Public's. They have better fruit here." Or you'll call him and it's like, "What are you doing?" He's like, "I'm playing with my cats." So, it's that, right? And I think he deserves that. Thank you. Alright. Thank you so much for being here, again, like everyone has said. We're super grateful that you were able to make it today. I'm Kiera, I'm a junior. I'm studying public policy at the Ford School. I'm doing concentration education policy. I wanna try to provide opportunities for all children like myself, to be able to achieve at their highest potential. And so, I was thinking a lot about how social movements and our activism on campus and even our activism just in our everyday lives, in our neighborhoods, how those are influencing change at the policy level. How you and your colleagues in congress inform your work by what we do, how we're protesting, how we're speaking out, if at all. Or if that's completely separate from what we're doing on the ground here or whether those two are ever in concert with each other. You two are much younger than I am? You're closer to this young lady age. Why not you too? Do you wanna go first? I don't work in DC. Let's parse the question first. DC's tough right now, right? It's real tough. Really tough. It's another world. I guest this is my 11th year on the hill and yeah, you can see it in my face. My mom passed in June and one of the things that she was really worried about for me is that I was getting too hard. Something would happen to her, somebody would do something on her land or something like that and I would call them up. I would read them the Riot Act, bring in lawyers, whatever it took, they were just smooshed. And the way things are in DC right now, that seems to be the only way you can survive. It's not even about, "Do we have a good dialogue?" It's, "Can you avoid the mortar fire? Can you avoid getting crushed as a piece of collateral damage from somebody's personal vendetta that's been carried on for 10 years?" And that's not what statesmen do. And this country's not run by statesmen right now. But I think, this is what makes John Lewis, this is what makes the Civil Rights Movement, this is what makes non violence and the understanding of non violence so important for this day and age is that the path forward, in Washington in particular, is going to be one in which we all have to take a very difficult look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves. I see people who came to Washington, who don't believe in government. Why are you trying to be in government if you don't believe in it? Government is meant to be a force for good. For us all to pool our resources and build a community where we're all taken care of. If you don't believe that, you should not be in government. And I hope it goes that way. Some times I'm talking with some of my friends and colleagues in the Congress and I said, "No, brother Paul, your mother didn't teach you that. Where you get it from?" Andrew will tell you, one thing I've been doing for the past few years, taking members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, progressive liberals but also conservatives, back to the historic sites of the Civil Rights Movement. I've been taking them to Birmingham, to the church where the Fuller girls was killed. The walk through the park where ____ used their dogs and their fire hoses. To take them to Montgomery, to Dr King's old church. Take them to the spot where Rosa Park was arrested. Take them to the old Greyhound bus station where we were beaten on May 20th, 1960. To take them across the bridge in Salma. Some come back renewed, but we have to take people back. Sometime I have to see and meet some other people that struggle. It's all in one effort to make us all better. Andrew is right. Yes you're right. My name is Michael. I'm from the wonderful Youth Arts Alliance. First off, I would like to say thank you Mr. Lewis for your role in the Civil Rights Movement. And I would like to say thank you to you too for bringing awareness to it. My question is, as a biracial young male, how can I use these unique qualities to fight against racism and discrimination today? Well, when you see people put down because of their race, their color, speak up. Say, "That's not right. That's not fair. That's not even being human." I come from a religious background and I happen to believe there's a spark of the divine in all of us. And we don't have a right, we have not been ordained, to abuse the spark of a fellow human being. You live your life and in living your life by your own presence, by your own being, you're saying that I am who I am. That I've been created in the image of the divine. That is about to happen in England. We're about to have a biracial princess. That's right, that's right. Thank you, sir. So it's okay. Say I'm okay as I am. I'm human. And don't let it get you down, brother. Keep picking them up and putting them down, okay? This is an important concept from non violence, which is the idea of education and sensitization. This is what I was talking about earlier, growing my beard. A lot of us can pass, but really we have an obligation to live our lives as loudly as possible about all the things that people don't see on a usual basis. Because if I go to work and someone says "Oh, why did you do that?" And I'm like, "Well, 'cause my father's Muslim. My father was a Muslim immigrant. I wanted people to know, I'm sticking it up for it a little bit." It's just my little thing to start the conversation, right? I'm educating and sensitizing people. The first reactions I always got was "Oh, really? Oh, but you're a good one." How many of y'all got that one? Right? Right? But that's just it. These are people who've never... They've never known a Muslim immigrant or a child of a Muslim immigrant and they just go with what they see on the... My mom says "the TV." At its core, the most simple thing you can do, is simply live your life out loud and let people know who you really are. And by that, educate and sensitize the people around you, so that your example as a person of conscience, as a person of morals, informs their perception of what you unfairly or fairly, mostly unfairly, come to represent. And you have to almost speak for your people. I didn't even know my dad. I don't know the first thing about being a Muslim immigrant. But that's my dad and that's my name and so I have to speak up for it, and you have to do the same. Thank you. Christina, how are we doing on time? Christina has left us. One more. One more. Okay, last question. We have one more question. My name is Derek and I'm also with the Youth Arts Alliance. No pressure. Right. Mr. Lewis, I was wondering is what you went through with racism affect the way you see white people today? May I hear your question again? Is what you went through with racism, affect the way you see white people today? Well, I don't have any inner bitterness or any hate. I don't hate anyone, dislike anyone because of what I went through. Some people think maybe I should be bitter or hostile because I was left bloody during the Freedom Rides, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Again in Montgomery, Alabama, that I almost died on that bridge. But I was just trying to help out, I put myself in the way. I got in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble, and I'm proud that I took a stand. I have friends, some are black, some are white, Asian American, Native American. They're my brothers and sisters. But I think racism is a disease. I think some of the social scientists are saying that. And maybe people in psychology, they're saying that. And we have to solely rid ourselves, of the feeling, the attitude, the hate. And I think the movement, in a sense, people said, was stirring up things, creating trouble. We were bringing it to the top, to the surface, so we could deal with it. You must continue to do just that. But we need people who would lead. ____ lead in high places. People who would get out front and say, "That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just." And be leaders. You should come and visit my office in Washington some time, when you're there. When the march on Washington was over, President Kennedy invited us down to the White House. He stood in the door of the Oval Office. He was beaming like a proud father. He said to each one of us, "You did a good job. You did a good job." And when he got to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. He said, "You did a good job, and you had a dream." He led. President Johnson responded to what happened in Selma. He made one of the most meaningful speeches an American president had made in modern time, in the whole question of civil rights or voting rights. He was the first American president to close his speech by saying, "And we shall overcome," the theme song of the movement. Leaders must lead. Leaders must be headlights and not tail lights. Thank you. Alright.

Historic boundaries

Census Year Population Counties
1920 170,857 Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Walker, Winston

List of members representing the district

Representative Party Years Electoral History Electoral Map
District created March 4, 1917
AL-10 65-72.png
William Brockman Bankhead (Young).jpg
William B. Bankhead
Democratic March 4, 1917 –
March 3, 1933
Elected in 1916.
Re-elected in 1918.
Re-elected in 1920.
Re-elected in 1922.
Re-elected in 1924.
Re-elected in 1926.
Re-elected in 1928.
Re-elected in 1930.

Redistricted to the 7th district.
District eliminated March 3, 1933


  • Population data from U.S. Census Bureau: Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990
  • Additional population data and counties from the Official Congressional Directories of the 63rd Congress (1913); 65th Congress (1919); and 67th Congress (1922)
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1982). The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Congressional Biographical Directory of the United States 1774–present

This page was last edited on 16 December 2018, at 16:19
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