John Lewis’ March brings freshmen together

Sarah Frieman, News Editor

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To foster more conversation about the graphic novel March, all freshmen will participate in an open-ended discussion in their Freshman Advisory Study Hall periods, Sept. 26.

“For the freshman we are going to make it a school wide event,” Supt. Dr. Witherspoon explained. “Not only will the FASH teachers facilitate it, but every administrator in the school will go into different classrooms to participate.”

To initiate summer reading for the freshman, ETHS teamed up with Evanston Cradle to Career, a community wide collective impact effort to serve the youth in the community. From this involvement, March was handed to freshmen and all teachers and staff.

ETHS also worked with District 65, which not only handed out March to the eighth graders, but paid for half of the cost of all books. In addition, the school worked with Family Action Network, which brings speakers every year to the area, and brought John Lewis to Evanston.

“It is unbelieveable he was here at ETHS,” Witherspoon said. “He was the leader of 600 people on Bloody Sunday. Congressman John Lewis is truly an American hero.”

Lewis is best known for his leadership in the civil rights movement. As a young man, he worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and participated in a number of historic events. He and King were among the 10 speakers at the March on Washington in 1963. Lewis also led a nonviolent march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, during which he and others were severely beaten by police, an event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

Throughout his career as a congressman, Lewis has continued to fight for equal rights. He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, including Harvard, Brown, and University of Pennsylvania. In 2011, Lewis received the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama.

Although the Civil Rights Movement was 50 years ago, Lewis has shown us that the fight for racial equality is still very relevant.

“I would like to see a time where people can come together, and do something because they have the freedom to do it,” freshman Jalen Williams said. “I would focus on today’s problems with police and citizens, and how we can change the relationship between them.”

Lewis wrote the graphic novel March in 2013, which is based on his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. Freshmen not only gained new knowledge about the civil rights movement, but also were inspired to make a change in their own community.

“The best thing about the book are the drawings. You get to actually see the relationship that John Lewis had with Martin Luther King and the other famous activists,” Williams said. “It was also cool to see how they used free speech to get their way to Washington and lead something so historic.”

According to The New York Times, March was inspired by the graphic novel “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story”, written in 1957, which is also about nonviolent resistance. This graphic novel was influential to Lewis during the Civil Rights Movement. With the persuasion of Andrew Aydin, his co-author, Lewis was inspired to tell his own account. He believes that “March” is, to some degree, a “change agent.” It has inspired a new generation to start making a change for racial equality.

“I definitely want to get more involved with SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism) at our school,” said junior Isabelle Bavis. “I want to try to get more of the public to know more about racial issues not only in our community, but nationwide.”