Civil rights pioneer, statesman and author U.S. Rep. John Lewis will be honored with the Nashville Public Library Literary Award on Saturday, Nov. 19. Lewis will discuss his New York Times best-selling graphic novel trilogy “March” during a free public lecture and book signing that same day at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School (613 17th Ave. N).
“Through the ‘March’ trilogy, Congressman Lewis is engaging a new generation of readers in civil rights history,” said Tari Hughes, president of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. “His story is inspiring and educational, and it holds an even deeper level of meaning for Nashvillians who walk the very streets where Congressman Lewis and his peers made history.”
In addition to Lewis’ being honored with the Literary Award, “March” has been selected for Nashville Reads 2017. Nashville Public Library (NPL), in partnership with the Office of the Mayor, the Nashville Public Library Foundation (NPLF), Humanities Tennessee, BookPage and Parnassus Books, hosts this yearly citywide reading initiative to encourage all Nashvillians to read and discuss a great piece of literature.
Lewis’ public lecture on Nov. 19 will be the city’s opportunity to hear him speak as the Literary Award Honoree and the 2017 Nashville Reads featured author.
“Both Nashville and the nation have been forever changed by Congressman Lewis’ unwavering moral compass, his relentless courage and his commitment to nonviolent change,” Mayor Megan Barry said. “He continues to spread his message about the need to get in ‘good trouble, necessary trouble’ to audiences far and wide, whether he’s sitting in on the U.S. House floor or crowd-surfing on late-night television.
“Congressman Lewis’ ‘March’ chronicles the enduring impact of the Nashville movement and his role in it. As we continue the critical work of building a better society for all, I can’t think of a better book for our city to read or a better person for our library to honor.”
Lewis is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, an author and an American civil rights icon. A graduate of now American Baptist College and Fisk University, Lewis was a leader in the Nashville student-led, nonviolent sit-in movement and the Freedom Rides in the early 1960s. He was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington (and is now the only surviving speaker) and was at the forefront of the Selma to Montgomery March as part of the voting rights movement in 1965. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Lewis is co-author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling graphic novel memoir trilogy “March.” The “March” series is used in schools across the country to teach the civil rights movement to the next generation of young activists, and has been selected as a First-Year common reading text at colleges and universities across the nation. Lewis is co-author of “Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change” and “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” and is the subject of two other books written about his extraordinary life.
Often called “one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced,” Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.
NPLF is extremely grateful to its Literary Award Gala chairs, President James E.K. Hildreth, Phyllis D.K. Hildreth, J.D., Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Lydia A. Howarth; this year’s Literary Award underwriter, UBS; and Vanderbilt University as the presenting sponsor for the public lecture.
“UBS’ support for the Nashville Public Library Foundation aligns with the company’s broader commitment to education and empowering our country’s next generation of leaders,” said Jerry Johnson, Tennessee Kentucky market head for UBS Wealth Management Americas. “Few Americans have done more to unlock opportunity and create meaningful change for our nation’s young men and women than Congressman John Lewis, and so we’re honored to congratulate him on being recognized for an extraordinary life dedicated to progress and public service. UBS is proud to join the Library and Congressman Lewis in promoting a love of learning that can inspire children from all backgrounds to achieve success at every phase of their academic journeys.”
About U.S. Rep. John Lewis and “March”
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D–Ga., is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from the segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president of the United States of America. Lewis collaborated with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell on “March,” a graphic novel trilogy that shares Lewis’ remarkable story with new generations. “March” is a vivid firsthand account of Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil rights and human rights.
About the Nashville Public Library Foundation Literary Award
Each year, the Nashville Public Library Foundation recognizes an outstanding author with its Literary Award, which honors the author’s achievements while promoting books, literacy and reading in Nashville. Lewis is the 13th honoree. Previous winners include Jon Meacham, Scott Turow, Robert K. Massie, Margaret Atwood, John McPhee, Billy Collins, Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Irving, Ann Patchett, John Updike, David McCullough and David Halberstam.