movement. >> good morning. welcome. we are excited to present to you a major participant in the civil rights history of this nation. united states representative, john lewis from george's fifth congressional district. congressman lewis is a man of integrity. one of the most courageous leaders the civil rights movement has ever produce. >> born a sharecropper sun on february 21, 1940 outside of roach roy alabama. he lived on on the family farm and intended segregated public schools in alabama. inspired by the activism surrounding the montgomery
boycott and the words of reverend luther king junior that he heard on the radio, he decided to join the movement. ever since, he has remained the vanguard of progressive social movement in the human rights and voting struggles. congressman lewis is a subject, co-author of numerous text, most notably he has co-authored the number one new york times best-selling graphic, novel series, march. book one was released in 2013. book two was released this year and immediately became a new york times bestseller. congressman lewis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the medal of freedom from president brock obama.
the naacp spin guard metal, the capital award of the national council -- and the only john f. kennedy profile encouraged award for lifetime achievement. now as you sit at his feet, please listen and learn from an insider's perspective about march. but first, stand up and give a rousing ovation to one of the finest citizens this nation has to offer. ladies and gentlemen, the honorable honorable john lewis and co-author andrew aydin. [applause].
[applause]. good morning. delighted, very happy, very pleased to be here in miami the miami book fair, one more time. i want to take thank you for being involved in this effort, thank you for this tying those kind words in the introduction. you heard in the introduction that i did not grow up in a big city like washington or new york. chicago, or philadelphia. i grew up in rule alabama, 50 miles from montgomery. outside of a little place called troy. my father was a sharecropper, back in 1944 when i was four years old, and i do remember
when i was for, how many of you remember when you are for? what happened to the rest of us? my father has a $300 and a man sold him 110 acres of land, for 300 dollars. for $300. my family still on the slant today. on this farm there is a lot of cotton, hogs, cows, chickens. we are. we are out there working in the field telling the story in march. picking cotton, gathering peanuts, picking corn, my mother was a boy you're fallen behind, you need to catch up. i was sick, this is hard work. she was a hard work number on trent never killed anyone, well it was about to kill me. so working on a farm, restless
chickens taught me hard work, discipline, perseverance. to never give up, to never give in, to keep the faith, and to keep my eyes on the prize. now some of you no doubt have heard me tell the story, you probably read it in march, that on the farm it was my responsibility to care for the chicken. i fell in love reason chickens and i know you are all readers of books, you love books. but you don't know anything about reason chickens. i know some of you love to eat chicken, but you do not know anything about raising chickens. as as a little boy, it was my responsibility, my calling to care for the chickens.
so when the hand was set and to take the first eggs to market, place them and wait for three long weeks for the chicks to hatch. some of you may be asking john lewis, why do you want those before you place them here. well from time time to time, another hand would get on that same nest and there'd be more eggs. you had to be able to tell of fresh egg from the eggs that were all ready there. you follow me? you don't that's okay. so when these little chicks hatch i would cheat and i'll take this little chick and give it to another hand. put it in a box with a lantern. get more fresh eggs, place it under it again and then the hen would sit on the nest for another three weeks.
when i look back on it it was not the right thing to do. it is not the moral thing to do, not the the most loving thing to do, not the most democratic thing to do. i was never quite able to save $18.98 to order the most inexpensive incubator from the roebuck story. anyone old enough to remember the sears roebuck? some people called the ordering book, some people called it the wish book, i wish i had this, i wish i had that. i just kept on wish it. but a little child around eight or nine years old, i wanted to be a minister. i wanted to preach the gospel. so from time to time at the help of my brothers and sisters, cousins, help of my brothers and sisters, cousins, we would gather the chickens together in the chicken yard. my brothers, sisters, cousins buying the outside of the chicken yard.
along with the chickens they would help make up the audience, the congregation. congregation. i would start speaking and preaching. when i look back on it so many chickens would shake their heads, they never quite said amen. but i'm convinced that some of those chickens that i preached to to in the 40s and 50s tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me in the congress. as a matter of fact some of those chickens were just a little overdone. at least they produce eggs, that's enough of that story. growing up there when we visited a little town of troy. in my gum rate visit muskegon, i asked for the signs that said white men, colored men, white women colored women, white waiting, colored colored waiting. will downtown on a saturday
afternoon to see a movie. all of us little black children would have to stand in the back. all the little white children went downstairs to the first floor. i asked my my mother, my father, my grandparents, why? they said that's the way it is. don't get in the way, don't get in trouble. in 1955, 15 years old in the tenth grade i heard the words of martin luther king jr. the words of rosa parks and they inspired me to find a way to get in the way. i was inspired to get into trouble. i got into what i call, good trouble, necessary trouble. so my idea that march with book
1, book 2, and summer book three will come out. it will inspire another generation, of another generation, young people and people not so young to stand up, speak up, speak out and get in good trouble, necessary trouble to have change her country and make our society and world a little better. some of you may be asking and i retell the story, how do how do you meet rosa parks and martin luther king jr.? in school, nashville tennessee, rosa parks came to speak at a rally at the church and i met her. long before then i applied to go to little college called tri-state college, now known as troy university. estimate my application, my high
school transcript, i never heard a word from the school, it did not admit black students. at the age of 17, i wrote a letter to doctor martin luther king jr., did i tell my mother, my father, my my father, my sisters or brothers, or my teachers. doctor king wrote me back and sent me a round-trip greyhound bus ticket invited me to come to montgomery and meet with him. in 1957 and uncle gave me a 100-dollar bill, money i never had. he gave me a big trunk with some of you back then maybe you call the footlocker. one of these big upright trunks. you open it up, bring it back together, and had the curtains, i put everything that i on except those chickens in that footlocker. took a greyhound bus to nashville. i have been in school in nashville for about three weeks,
i told one of my teachers that have been in contact with doctor martin luther king jr. this teacher knew doctor king, they king, they both study together at morehouse college in atlanta. so, doctor king got back and suggested when i was home for spring break to come see him. in march 1958, 18 years old, home from spring break, i took a bus to montgomery. a young lawyer, never seen a lawyer before, lawyer before, never met a lawyer before, young man by the name of freddie gray had been a lawyer from rosa parks, the montgomery movement, he became our lawyer during the freedom ride and during the march from thelma to montgomery. met at the greyhound bus station in downtown montgomery. joe made me to the first baptist church and ushered me into the pastors and i saw martin luther king jr.
i'm so scared, i didn't know what to say or do. doctor do. doctor king said, are you the boy from troy? are you john lewis? and i said, doctor can can i am john robert lewis. i gave my whole name. and he started calling me, the boy from troy. i went back and had a discussion with my mother and father and told them of my meeting of doctor king and the reverend. doctor king had said we may have to file suit against the state board of education, tri-state and in that process our may be burned, we may lose the land. now go back and have a discussion. so i decided to continue to study in nashville. in nashville, group of students,
tennessee state, american baptist college, vanderbilt, vanderbilt university, and peabody, black-and-white college student stood in the way of peace, love, nonviolence. we stood up with an attempted to accomplish in south africa or what they accomplished in india. we studied civil disobedience, we stood up for martin luther king jr. and the people in montgomery it was all about. they were sitting there, and tries to tell you that he did a little research working on march and discovered that in 1960, after we had been sitting in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent passion. we were waiting to be syrupy but people come up and sit on us, later cigarettes in our hair,
down our backs, pour hot water, hot coffee on us. we are so orderly, then we heard we may get arrested. during those days, when i protested i wanted to look good. i put on my sunday's best. i have very little money, i wanted a new suit if i was going to go to jail. so i went to a used men's store, in downtown nashville. i bought a suit and i paid $5 for. i tell you i looked fresh. if i still had that suit today, i could probably sell it on ebay for a lot of money for a lot of money. during the 60s i was arrested 40 times.
since then and congress, five more. the last time i got arrested, two years ago october 2 years ago. there was 200 of us, eight members of congress hundreds of private citizens, we're trying to get the speaker of the house to pass a bill that the senate had passed to bring it to the floor for comprehensive immigration reform. it doesn't make sense to have millions of people living in this country of ours and not providing them citizenship or on a path to citizenship, that's not right. that's not fair.
in my book there's no such thing as an illegal human being. as the pope said -- [applause]. as the pope said when he spoke to the congress a few weeks ago, we are all immigrants. we all come from some other place. now, marge will tell an individual story. it's not just my story. just think, if use short years ago in 1961, the same years that brock obama was born, black people and white people could not be seen together on a bus. leaving washington d.c., traveling to virginia south carolina georgia, alabama, mississippi. we are on our way to new orleans
to test of decision of the united states supreme court. thirteen of us became part. i was one of the 15. we went through a period of training for four days, the night of may 3, 1961 we went to a chinese restaurant in rule alabama, i attended school in nashville, i, i never had chinese food before. we had a wonderful meal. someone spoke up and said you should eat well, this may be like the last supper the next day, some bordered a bus, some boarded a greyhound bus, the two of us entered a white waiting
room, attempted to in rock hill south carolina we were tied, beaten, and, and left lying in a pool of blood. we are beaten by members of the clan. may 1961, in february 091 of the guys beat us. he came to my office he was in his 70s, the son was in his 40s, he came and said mr. lewis, i am one of the people that beat you. i want to apologize, will you forgive me? the young son started crying, he started crying and i said, i accept your apology, i forgive you. they hugged me, i have been back and the three of us cried
together. that is the power of the way of peace, the power of the way of love. that is the power of nonviolence. that is moving to reconciliation. marge is saying in effect that we must come to the point where we lay down the burden of race. it is sent to future generations that we can create the beloved community but it doesn't matter if we are black or white, latina, asian-american, asian-american, asian-american, or asian american, where one people, one family, one house, we all live in the same house, not just american house but the world house. [applause]. i like to quote a man who is born here in in the great state of florida. he was born and backed jacksonville florida he moved to
new york and became a champion of civil rights, civil rights, labor rights, mr. randolph was saying in the so-called big six on the march on washington he would say to us sometime, maybe our foremothers and forefathers all came to this great land on different ships but we are all in the same boat now. we must look after each other, care for each other, and try to move closer to the beloved community. doctor king put it this way, we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters but or we perish as fools. gandhi gandhi said it is nonviolent or non- existence. march is saying another generation, is it possible for us to be a little more human?
just be human. i tell tell young people all the time, and andrew is going to speak about it we have to come to that point where we have the capacity, the village to to forgive. lay down the burden of division, the burden of separation. i tell young people, never hate. hate. hate is too heavy a burden to bear. now, some people ask wire you so hopeful? why so optimistic? i think it is in my dna. but it is also what i discover in the school, and life, it is
better to let than to hate. it is better to do good then to do evil. can we come to that point as a human being when we recognize and respect dignity in the words of every human being? we want to spread the word, we travel all across america carrying the good message, the message of hope, the message of love, the message of peace. in my last arrest i must tell you, i left my bail money someplace. we had been told it was going to be $50, i did not have the money.
the capitol police that had arrested us were apologizing and saying hey to do this but we have been ordered to do it. we want to apologize for arresting you and it is going to cost $50 to get out of this place. , this young man i went in his pocket and found $50 and got me out of the place. i did repay you, right? i'm very, very hopeful about the future. march 1 is out, march 2, march 3 and i'm so sorry that the artist, illustrator is not here, this young man is so good, andrew will tell you he makes the word saying and dance and sometimes when you're signing a book and we sang together he would draw a chicken and the chicken is saying amen.
so i said to each and every one of you, you must never ever give up, you must never in the sea of despair, you must keep the faith, be hopeful, be optimistic, be happier, enjoy life. let's do what we can to see this little piece of real estate we call earth, not just for this generation buffered generations yet unborn. we can do it, and we muster it. thank you very much. [applause].
[applause]. how do you follow that? my name is andrew i don't, i serve as the policy advisor in washington d.c., am the co-author march. [laughter] i'm sure some point before he came here today, you asked yourself why did john lewis decide to write a graphic novel? it is my fault. it started in 2008, it was the summer of hope and change, brock obama was sweeping through the democratic primary. i went to serve on congressman lewis' campaign as his press secretary. is coming to the end of the campaign the congressman was
with two opponent somewhere talking about what we're going to do afterwards. some folks said, i'm going to go to the beach. other folks that i'm going to visit my parents, i said, i'm going i said, i'm going to go to a comic book convention. you can imagine and the uptight world of politics i got left out for saying that. except one person did not laugh. it was john lewis. from the back are the room he said do not laugh, there is a comic book during the and it was called martin luther king in the montgomery story. it was 16 pages from cover to cover. i do not know much about it at the time, but was was he told me i looked i read it, i was about the montgomery bus boycotts, and introduction to gandhi, it struck me, here i was a lifelong comic fan, fan, i've been reading comics since i was five years old.
truth be told, i would start reading comics after my dad left because it was a refuge, it was a place to read stories about justice about role models and heroes who do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. having done that read that my whole life and seen john lewis and seen that a comic book had played a meaningful role in civil rights movement i couldn't help myself. here's a man who had been a part of almost every seminal moment of the silver rights movement. he sat in at nashville, he had been a freedom writer. he helped lead the march on washington. he let the march on blood is sunday. as 24 years old, i did not, did not know any better. i started asking the congressman, why don't you write a comic book? at first he said zero, well maybe. which if you ever have a chance
work in politics you'll find that maybe is a kind way of saying no. i cannot give up on the idea, it meant so much to me, he meant so much to me, i grew up in atlanta, he is been my congressman since i was three years old yeah, my mother still doesn't believe it. yet, having grown up in atlanta, having heard so much about the silver is moving, no one ever taught me about the role of young people, that really and truly, they were the linchpin, they, they were what pushed radical reforms into the mainstream, that they made the movement work. they were the glue. so i kept asking john lewis why don't you read a comic book. people kept laughing. and i kept asking. until finally one day john lewis turned around to me and said,
okay, let's do it. but only but only if you write it with me. that they change my life. i say to you today the people are laughing at you you are probably doing something right, [applause]. that was just the beginning how do you go from having a congressman say okay, i'll do it to actually getting a book put together and publish. it took us five years. the congressman vesely has a day job, i'm on his staff, i did too. submit every night, every weekend when people go see their family and go out, relax the movie, we would go back to work. i told the kids the other day you think homework is back, try that. in the meantime i also decided to go back to grad school, as as if things were not hard enough. i grow i wanted to know the history so i wrote my thesis.
when i found proved to me we are on the right path. it turns out doctor king helped edit that, book. can you imagine? doctor martin luther king junior, comic book book editor but there he was in 1957 pouring over comic strip. his edits made it in the final version. so we're patiently working for months that became years. was a surreal journey, early on the congressman invited me to go on a pilgrimage which is where he leads members of congress to alabama. he shows them the site. tells the story. i got on the elevator and there was john segan fowler. ethel kennedy, robert kennedy's widow, i cannot help myself, zero my gosh, excuse me, i i just thought you would want to
know, you are in a comic book that i am working on with john lewis. ethel kennedy looks at me with these big beautiful eyes and says well, that's nice dear. you can understand what it meant to me when a few years later she called on my cell phone to tell me that march book one was the first graphic novels ever when the kennedy book award. [applause]. that was not the moment we realize we are well our way to inspiring a new generation. that moment came just before book one came out. i got a phone call from a reporter in a newspaper he said look, i don't usually do this, but i gave i gave your book to my 9-year-old son, he has read it. then he went and put on his sunday suit and now is marching
around my house demanding equality for everyone. imagine if we existed in a world where there was a social consciousness in every 9-year-old. in a generation of injustice would know hunger be tolerated. it's not just that, we don't teach the silver rights movement. teaching tolerance puts out a report every few years that looks at the quality of civil-rights education in the country, it is nothing but bad news, 34 states four states get a d or nf. another 13 tennessee, three states do it okay. that's it. how can you understand what is happening in this country if you do not understand the silver rights movement? so much of our politics stem from that vital decade. so much legislation, so much
activism, so much hope, everything comes from that. we have to change that, we call the ten word problem, kids graduate from high school knowing ten was about the civil-rights movement, rosa parks, martin luther luther king, i have a dream. that's it. but we are changing that, in two years marches being taught in schools more than 40 states. it is been used in reading programs and more than a dozen universities. the congressman is giving it his all. he is going around the country and talking to students, explaining his life story. it's in poor they see him. that the he is that that he is a real human being someone they can emulate. civility is sorely lacking, no human being more fully represent that than john lewis. [applause]. in the congressional office i
help with the social media in a sense, i tweet for a living. it's part of my job but it's a very serious part. because social media represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with each other and with our elected officials, one of the things i like test students when we go to the schools is what would doctor king have tweeted? what would gandhi poster? how would they use these tools? now we're seeing the generation of armchair activists. people like to talk and complain and voice their opinions and social media but they are not using it to organize and to show up to the full extent of the possibility. we're starting to see growth and
that is why march is so important. delays out the principles of nonviolence, how another generation did it, we focus on communication we focus on the mimeograph machines in the small tools they're able to use with such great effect, to great effect, to show this generation how to use those principal to achieve even greater results, they're getting there, we've had students involved in sustaining campaigns after we visited there schools. or they are organizing, we have seen the passion they have, once they start reading, they want to know. they know. they want to know what they can do. we will get there. where should we start? think we have to start with students, there's so much wrong in this country. we have to get rid of the student loan debt so students can be that activist. that's not the only problem, certainly not. that allows us to create an active generation. when john lewis got married in 1968 the wedding announcement read, to wed unemployed political activist, john lewis.
people who are ahead of their time pay a price. we must lift the burden of debt so that this generation is free to pay the price would build a more perfect union. i will tell you one more story. when i was a kid, when i was in high school, i brought comic books to my english class. my english teacher took them away and said they were not real books and should not be on my desk. i've the opportunity to go back to my high school with congressman lewis. i saw my english teacher and discussed our experiences teaching our graphic novel. i say that because the teacher is doing the lords work, she is the teach, she is putting up with students every day. but i say it as an example of the power of an idea whose time has come. the brief time span in which
change is possible. so i ask you, join us, march. thank you. [applause]. so we have time for a few questions. congressman lewis, i would like to ask you a question about a guy, he is an active as he calls himself an activist, he goes to protest and stuff. but he refuses to register to vote. i'd like to know how i can convince them to vote. he said he's both parties are corrupt. i said it is the basic civil
rights. >> you tell him, just tell your friend that i would strongly suggest that he register and vote. the vote is the most powerful, nonviolent instrument or tool we have and we should use it. [applause]. i met this guy named john lewis who said, he gave a little blood for that right to vote and we have to vote. she failed to vote, you do do not have a voice. cannot complain. [applause]. think you will for writing these
books amongst other things that gives us the pleasure, and honor of hearing from you. my question is, what was more difficult for you, the hard work on the chicken farm or serving on the bank as a committee? [laughter] is a staffer i will point out john lewis does not serve on the house oversight. the important part of john lewis story is that he is above that. he is an example of what it is to seek forgiveness and to work together from people different ideologies.
i wouldn't have given my 20s on this project and spread in his story if it was not worth it and crucial to the future of our democracy. he is everything and his example is something we must follow. so you are right, right, that was too far, that was too much. i hope what it pointed out to the american people that will have to rise above and follow john's example of forgiveness. to show that you cannot spell revolution without love. love is the highest virtue in this country. i must be honored as such. >> congressman lewis, i just wanted to say there is absolutely no need for the couple who introduced you to request a standing ovation from this the miami book fair audience. [applause]. >> thank you. >> okay congressman lewis, and light light of your past contributions in the cell phone
rights, one what is your view of black lives matter and what would be one of your favorite books that you have read that you would highly recommend that other people read? that has had a significant impact on you. >> i think the young people that are engaged in the work of black lives matters are falling into a very rich tradition. when you see something that is not fair, not right, not just, you have to speak up and speak out, and find a way to get in the way. to get in trouble, good trouble. to help educate, help inform. i think in america today we're to quiet. [applause]. >> and one of your favorite books? >> there are several. read march, by all means.
[laughter] >> thomas virgin, when i was margin on the from selma to montgomery i was wearing a backpack before it became fashionable to wear backpacks. i had two books. one was the history of political tradition by harvard professor and a book by thomas bergen, on contemplation. before going on the march, before sitting in and going on the freedom ride, before walking it cross that bridge some of us had what we call an executive session with our self. you prepare yourself. i thought i was going to die. so you read and you get the
necessary energy in the necessary strength. i thought i was going to be arrested and jailed and i was beaten, i thought i saw death, so sometimes just reading books, poems, essays there plenty good books out there. thank you. >> .. >> i have a question. you know how water, you have that huge bite, water is shooting down it, good force and you have smaller pipes coming off of it, the pressure and speed of the water is going to go down because it is getting diluted. you say civil rights and the
first thing i think of is african-american civil rights, changing the system. the focus of all african americans and many other american citizens, contribution of the media, television, everything came together to do that. tectonic shift. when i hear you say today you must continue civil rights and start off with for example student loans. here it is the thing. when you take on a lot of things, sometimes you lose efficacy, your strength is weakened. when you say civil rights do you think -- you can do many things parallel or is there and border so that i don't know --
>> the reason we start with student loans is it allows an entire generation to find their voice. let me put it this way. is john lewis had to pay student-after he graduated, in the freedom ride, in jail, he was in prison. there would have been no civil rights act, no voting rights act because he would have had to work. how many progressive reforms are we missing because this generation, the next john lewis, rather than serve this society? [applause] >> let me put it another way, the march on washington, the march on washington called for minimum wage, equivalent to $15 an hour today. these are fundamental human rights efforts and the language of the civil rights movement was coopted, the freedom summer, the freedom rides, freedom vote and
the freedom caucus that stands for nothing, like the freedom vote or freedom movement did, and it was about so much to so many people. they didn't focus on one thing, we can't live ourselves. we start with student loans because we need a whole generation. >> exactly. when i hear you say talk about civil rights for everything, okay. >> thank you. >> congressman lewis, would you say the civil rights movement has emerged into the progressive political movement completely and if it has not completely merged into the progressive political movement, what would you say and what would you enumerate are the remaining goals of the civil rights movement that need to be accomplished? >> part of our politics trying to catch up to the civil rights
movement. they still have a great distance to travel. and the voting rights act, more than 30 states change their voting laws making it harder and more difficult, not just for people of color, but for our senior citizens, my position opened up the political process and let everybody come in and spoke at the march on washington on august 28, 1963, when i was 23 years old, and i said one person, one vote. and today money is controlling the american politics. [applause] >> as the great nation, great people, we can do better, we can
do much better. make it easy, make it simple. >> you have to -- we will answer you on social media. is that cool? >> congressman, you are one of my heroes and in fifth grade you signed my cast so when i came to your office i quoted you when you said hate is too heavy a burden to bear. can you give some practical tips on how to put it down? >> in this audience, i heard dr. king said on one occasion maybe i can hear frei's him and let him take it. love the hell out of everybody. love is a better way.
just love everybody. putting someone down because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation, part of the world they come from, is it possible for us as human beings to come to that point, emerge, grow, we can be just a little more human. i pray for those chickens. i would teach those chickens don't fight, you be kind. listen to me. why can't we as humans, kind to