Civil Rights activist and congressman John Lewis presented with - WSMV News 4

Civil Rights activist and congressman John Lewis presented with Literary Award

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Congressman John Lewis (Source: Nashville Public Library Foundation) Congressman John Lewis (Source: Nashville Public Library Foundation)

Civil Rights legend and United States Congressman John Lewis returned to his activist roots in Nashville Saturday for a public lecture and to receive an award from the Nashville Public Library.

Earlier Saturday morning at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School, Lewis received the Nashville Public Library’s 2016 Literary Award for his graphic novel trilogy, “MARCH.” The New York Times best-selling trilogy details Lewis’ involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

The trilogy, co-written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature on Wednesday. The books describe Nashville as a catalyst for Lewis’ drive for activism.

“Congressmen Lewis learned a lot from Nashville, but I think Nashville learned even more from him,” Mayor Megan Barry said in a news release. “He is an American hero, a model of nonviolent protest whose moral courage and devotion to his ideals made our city a better place.”

At the event, Barry surprised Lewis with several of his previously unpublished mug shots and other Nashville Police Department Records from his arrests during civil rights protests in the early 1960s.

Lewis is an alumnus of both Fisk University and American Baptist Theological Seminary (now American Baptist College) in Nashville.

Lewis helped form the Nashville Student Movement alongside figures such as Diane Nash and Jim Lawson. The group organized the Nashville sit-ins to integrate lunch counters in 1960.

Lewis is quoted over the door of the NPL’s Civil Rights Room saying, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

The first installment of “MARCH” is the 2017 Nashville Reads selection and will be discussed at events around the city this spring.

Copyright 2016 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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