Civil rights leader to speak Sept. 22

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the civil rights movement, will speak at Henderson State University Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Arkansas Hall.

Lewis’ graphic novel trilogy entitled March shares the remarkable story of his commitment to justice and nonviolence that has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress. The first volume has won numerous awards, including the 2014 American Library Association Coretta Scott King Book Award.

Lewis will be joined by the book’s co-writer, Andrew Aydin, and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell, who illustrated the book.

Their appearance is part of Henderson’s Reddie Read program, which serves as a focal point for engaging the Henderson community in formal and informal conversations about issues of importance in today’s world through reading the same book. 

The event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will be held in the Arkansas Hall Studio Theatre lobby following the presentation.

Lewis is often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.” He has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America.

Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the nonviolence philosophy.  He has received numerous awards including the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor granted by a U.S. president.

Aydin serves as digital director and policy advisor for Lewis. He frequently lectures about the history of comics in the civil rights movement and has appeared as a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show, National Public Radio, CBS This Morning, CNN and the BBC.

Powell is a graphic novelist born in Little Rock. His work has received a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, an Eisner Award, two Ignatz Awards, and many other honors. His books have been placed on school curriculum in more than 40 states. Powell’s animated illustrations in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot documentary will reach roughly one million students in schools across the nation.

The Reddie Read program was started in 2006. Once a title is selected, books are distributed to new freshmen during Heart Start and summer registration. The students discuss the book in their Henderson Seminar classes. The author, or a speaker addressing a major theme of the book, is invited to visit the campus.

Recent speakers and authors include: Terry Waite, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Sonia Nazario, Judy Shepard, Ishmael Beah and Conor Grennan. Among the featured books are: The Kite Runner, Persepolis, Half Broke Horses, The Laramie Project, and Enrique’s Journey.

For more information about Henderson’s Reddie Read program, go to