This past Sunday, the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation welcomed nearly 800 residents, community leaders, and elected officials to the Jacobs Center’s Celebration Hall for a special presentation from legendary civil rights activist and respected member of Congress John Lewis and his award-winning graphic novel collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. Lewis, Aydin, and Powell made a special visit to Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods after their 2015 Comic-Con panel to discuss their bestselling graphic novel series MARCH. MARCH recounts Lewis’ experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and provides valuable lessons in nonviolent activism and youth empowerment.
The Jacobs Family Foundation and Jacobs Center Board Members Valerie Jacobs Hapke and Norm Hapke donated 1,000 copies of MARCH: Book One and Book Two to students in Southeastern San Diego. EIS used the books to coordinate reading and discussion activities with various local schools, churches, and community organizations to engage students in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the students who participated in these activities were in attendance on Sunday. They welcomed the co-creators with a symbolic march across the Chollas Creek bridge from the Market Creek Plaza Amphitheater to the Jacobs Center.
The event started with a rousing performance by the Thunder Squad Drumline from the Heartbeat Music Academy. Young performers brought the crowd to their feet and shared personal monologues.
Following Thunder Squad Drumline, Courtney Davis, an alumna of EIS, welcomed the community and shared her experience, the importance of education, and spoke about the inspiration she received from Congressman Lewis’ career.
Lewis, Aydin, and Powell each spoke about their own social justice influences and what inspired them to create MARCH. Following their presentation, several students had the opportunity to ask Lewis about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and his thoughts on some of today’s social justice movements.
Copies of the best-selling MARCH: Book One and Book Two were available for sale at the event. They can also be purchased at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.
With many communities across the country still struggling with social and racial issues today, the messages of hope that MARCH offers were especially meaningful for residents in the Diamond Neighborhoods.
The graphic novel series has become a key resource to teach the next generation about a pivotal moment in our nation’s history and has been embraced by countless readers. It’s been adopted in classrooms nationwide, spent 40 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, and even become the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
You can view more photos from the historic event here.