A Comic Book Got John Lewis Interested In Civil Rights. What'll It Take To Interest Boehner?
Today's the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," or at least the American Civil Rights Movement's version of it -- kind of makes you proud as an English-speaking human being that in addition to this one and the 1972 massacre in Northern Ireland, there are at least another 15 events that have earned the name, doesn't it? Here's Congressman John Lewis, briefly recounting the attempt to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. The nationally televised brutality of the Alabama State Police against unarmed demonstrators helped shame the nation into passing the Voting Rights Act.
And speaking of shame, there's the unfortunate reality that not a single member of the Republican Congressional leadership had planned to attend the commemoration today, although quite a few rank-and-file Republicans from both the House and Senate will be there. For the leadership -- House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn -- it just wasn't a priority. But apparently, to a lesser degree than in 1965, a good public shaming can still have an effect: late Friday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that he would attend the Selma anniversary commemoration after all. So, hey, the whole party is redeemed, and stupid liberals should stop complaining because Robert Byrd was in the Klan after all.
If you're in the mood for some personal history in graphic memoir form, we'd recommend John Lewis's own retelling of his story in the two volumes of March. We reviewed the first book last year, and it was terrific; the second volume is also available now. (If you're more of a Mobile Devices person, you can also find 'em at Comixology.) It's actually a pretty nice bit of circle-closing. In 2008, when Lewis's co-author and former press aide Andrew Aydin mentioned he was going to a comics convention, Lewis told Aydin that he had originally become interested in the Civil Rights Movement after reading a comic book as a teen in 1958: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Story, which told the story of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and provided a basic primer in the methods of nonviolent resistance. Nerds, please remember this anecdote for whenever people say comics are garbage (then nonviolently whack 'em over the head with a copy of Maus).
Since we're on Selma, let's watch John Legend and Common blowing away the Oscars with "Glory" at the Academy Awards this year:
And let's not forget the acceptance speech:
And finally, the relevant episode of the peerless PBS documentary series, Eyes On the Prize. If you haven't watched the full series, you need to. Yes, we are giving you an assignment.
Now go and get some justice done. Yes, we are giving you another assignment.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.