National Book Awards: John Lewis recalls being denied entry as a child to ‘whites only’ library
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) gave an emotional speech about the power of reading as he accepted a National Book Award for his graphic novel.
The civil rights legend’s “March: Book Three,” the final installment in his autobiographical trilogy, won the award for Young People’s Literature last week — and Lewis nearly broke down in tears as he accepted the honor, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“Some of you know I grew up in rural Alabama, very poor, very few books in our home,” Lewis said. “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.”
The lawmaker thanked an elementary school teacher for instilling his passion for the written word.
“Read, my child, read,” he recalled the teacher saying to him, his voice shaking with emotion.