Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin Lecture UMD on “Good Trouble”
IMAGE CAPTION: Congressman John Lewis, right, and Andrew Aydin (cq) listen to students’ questions on Thursday, Oct. 13 in Memorial Chapel, after lecturing on what good trouble is and how students can get involved. Photo by Briana Briscoe.
The audience at Memorial Chapel grew quiet on Thursday, Oct. 13 as Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, Lewis’ digital director and policy advisor, walked onto a raised platform at the front of the room. Once the authors of “March: Book 3” settled, the large crowd before them erupted into applause and cheers.
The lecture titled “Good Trouble” explored how Lewis and Aydin used different forms of civil disobedience, like marches, sit-ins or social movement hashtags in tweets, to change decisions that impacted them or others. The chapel’s first floor was filled to capacity with students, faculty and other Maryland residents, young and old, prepared to hear Lewis and Aydin speak.
Lewis, a leader in the civil rights movement and representative of Georgia’s 5th district, spoke on his experiences causing “good trouble,” commonly known as civil disobedience. His tempered voice overflowed the chapel as he recalled his encounters with Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy and why it is important for young people to stir the pot so justice is at the forefront. Lewis reminded students, “You must never ever give up or give. You have to keep your eyes on the prize.We all have roles to play and we must play them well.”
He also threw a joke in every now and then, keeping the crowd laughing, especially when he said he would preach to chickens when he was a kid in Alabama and they would listen better than some of his colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Nwando Arah, a sophomore economics major, said, “He’s very down to earth. The way he spoke today was crazy to me, it was a chill vibe like he was cracking jokes. It was interesting to see that side of him other than the man on the floor of the house being very passionate and formal about what he’s talking about.”
Aydin, digital director and policy advisor for Lewis, followed up by explaining why the duo decided to write the “March” series as graphic novels. He said his love for comic books and Lewis’ recollection of a comic called “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story” distributed during the Civil Rights Movement inspired the idea. He also explained why it was important for young college-aged people get to involved with social justice issues, like he did when he was in college as well as Representative Lewis.
Aydin urged that “Students have to come together to create a solid organization with a structure that allows them to negotiate with the powers that be. There has never been a more important time for students to put pressure on the government otherwise they would forget and let things go.”
Neto Obichere, a sophomore pre-med major, said “He inspires action at a young age. A book like this is like a call to action and I think it’s almost a warning of complacency even within the black community.”
The lecture was organized by the Office of Undergraduate Studies along with the William L. Thomas Omicron Delta Kappa Lecture Series and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a follow up to student interaction with this year’s first year book “March: Book 3,” written by Lewis and Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. The book was chosen as this year’s first year book by the First Year Book Committee. Dr. Lisa Kiely, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies and member of the First Year Book Committee, said “The book was chosen for three reasons: understanding history, knowing that change takes time and not assuming just because something has changed there is no work left you have to sustain it.”
Another member of the First Year Book Committee, Executive Administrative Assistant for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Timea Webster, said the book was chosen to “represent cultural relevance to where we are now.”
The first 100 attendees allowed inside Memorial Chapel were also allowed to have their books signed by Aydin and Lewis. After hearing the co-authors speak then getting to meet them later on, students said they were “shook”. Jasmine Okosun, senior nursing major said [John Lewis’s] story “is a story of passion and never giving up. He shows the younger generation ‘I’ve been doing this for a very long time and I still have that same drive if not more about rights in general’. To see a man of his stature consistently speak out on these issues, give back to the community and care about young people during this time really resonates with me.”
“March: Book 3” is only the latest to come from Lewis and Aydin. To understand the full story of Lewis’ role in the Civil Rights Movements it is recommended to read the previous novels, “March: Book One” and “March: Book Two.”