Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Long And Winding Road


Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. and 250,000 other people marched on Washington D.C. to protest systemic inequality in the American political and social structure.  Today, only one of the day's speakers, Representative John Lewis, is still alive to talk about it.  In 1956 Martin Luther King Jr. published a comic book about Montgomery, Alabama and the non-violent struggle to end segregation.  That comic book inspired a generation of young people to take action.  It stands as a demonstration of just how savvy Martin Luther King Jr. and many of the leaders of the civil rights movement were in terms of understanding the role of media in social change.  Representative Lewis, following their example, has published a graphic novel, March (Book One), about the civil rights movement in an attempt to reach out to a whole new generation of young people.  While the novel may be about the civil rights movement of fifty years ago, and while true racial equality still seems out of touch, Lewis has said that in the 21st century, the political struggle is rooted in money, rather than race.  In listening to him in interviews it seems clear that even from his position within it, or perhaps particularly so, the political system in its current form cannot be a vehicle for change or a path to equality, racial or economic.  In reaching out to a new generation his message is simple; march on.

To see Life Magazines photo retrospective of the event:


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