WHAT: March: Book Three has become the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award in its 67-year history, earning top honors in the Young People’s Literature category.
WHO: Congressman and Civil Rights Movement icon John Lewis, co-writer Andrew Aydin, and illustrator Nate Powell.
WHY WE CARE: The March trilogy (Top Shelf/IDW) chronicles Lewis’s experiences in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and explains the concepts behind non-violent civil disobedience that effected change. The National Book Award caps a slew of accolades, including Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Eisner Award, two Harvey Awards, and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor; adoption by universities and public school systems around the country; and six continuous weeks holding the top three spots on The New York Times Bestseller List.
Initially a look back at a tumultuous time, March has become a blueprint for action given the current political upheaval. "The story of the Movement must be told," said Aydin during the November 16 ceremony. "We all must know it, if we are to understand the politics of today."
"This is unbelievable," said Congressman Lewis after receiving the award from Young People’s Literature Award jury chair Katherine Paterson. His voice shook as he recalled a childhood visit to a rural Alabama library. "We were told that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds. Now, to come here and receive this award, with these two—it’s too much."
Archived video of the ceremony’s livestream is available here.