Watch John Lewis powerful speech accepting a National Book Award

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., holds the new installment of his award-winning graphic novel on civil rights and nonviolent protest, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A comic book about Martin Luther King Jr. helped bring John Lewis into the civil rights movement. The longtime Democratic congressman from Georgia now hopes that graphic novels about his life and what his contemporaries endured to overcome racism will guide today's protesters in search of justice. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., holds the new installment of his award-winning graphic novel on civil rights and nonviolent protest, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Civil rights icon John Lewis almost broke down in tears this week when he took the stage to accept a National Book Award for his graphic novel March: Book Three.

After receiving the award for Young People’s Literature for the final installment of the trilogy on the civil rights movement, the Georgia congressman told the audience he was struggling to take in the moment.

“Some of you know I grew up in rural Alabama, very poor, very few books in our home,” Lewis said, his voice quaking with emotion. “I remember in 1956, when I was 16 years old, going to the public library to get library cards, and we were told the library was for whites only and not for coloreds. And to come here and receive this honor, it’s too much.”

Then he credited a teacher in elementary school who told him “read my child, read” for instilling in him a passion for the written word.

Words don’t do it justice. Watch the video below.

 

 

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