Andrew Aydin, author of the much anticipated Run: Book One, co-written with the late Congressman John Lewis, sat down with rolling out to discuss this groundbreaking graphic novel and sequel to March. Aydin shares Congressman Lewis’ commitment to inspiring a new generation to actively participate in the democratic process and help build a more perfect union.
How and where did you begin to connect with John Lewis?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, [under] Congressman Lewis. I had come to Washington and interviewed for a job answering his mail. He hired me, and then in 2008, asked if I would join his campaign as his press secretary. [As] it was coming down to the end of the campaign, I said I was going to a comic book convention, and he said, there was a very influential comic book during the movement, he was talking about Martin Luther King in the Montgomery story.
It was beautiful. It talked about Martin Luther King, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and nonviolent civil disobedience. I remember reading this comic and thinking, ‘why isn’t there a John Lewis comic book?’
I was a lifelong comics fan, and comics were my sanctuary. And so I just kept asking, convinced that it would make a huge impact on the lives of young people, understanding exactly what he did. I remember him looking at me, [and saying], “OK, I’ll do it. But only if you write it with me.” And that’s where it all started.
What would you say to a young man in Atlanta who reads this book?
I want the young people who read this book to see themselves in it and see that there are lessons to change what’s happening in Atlanta and around the country. That just because we have a law on the books, doesn’t mean that’s how the world works. We always have to be testing those rules. And I think with what’s happening in Atlanta, and what’s happening around the country, they need to understand these lessons so that they can claim their power.
What kind of superhero was Lewis, to you, and in the book?
John is this person who has so much courage and so much belief in nonviolent civil disobedience, as a way of life – as a way of living, as opposed to a tool or a tactic. He’s so devoted to his beliefs, and he’s willing to stand up for them, even if they cost him his position in the movement, no matter what people think of him. In some ways, he’s a little bit like Batman. He’s doing this for his moral reasons. He’s fighting without superpowers, with only his wits. Now, it’d be nice if John had a billion dollars behind him because he could have done a whole lot more with that. But that’s another story.
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