Houston Public Library Presents: John Lewis
Feb 8 at 6:30
Free with ticket; seating is limited
Wortham Theater Center, Cullen Theater
501 Texas Ave.
Call 832-393-1652 for ticket information

Last Friday marked the Houston release of Ava DuVernay's acclaimed new film Selma, about the dramatic series of civil rights marches in Alabama in 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The film, which has received four Golden Globe Award nominations and is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture at the Oscars, has the surprising distinction of being the first major film to focus on King.

But the movie also makes clear that King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference was only primus inter pares among the panoply of civil rights groups and leaders who joined forces to organize the marches. Another leader was John Lewis, the Alabama-born chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which rivaled the SCLC as the most important group in the civil rights movement.

Lewis is played in the film by actor Stephan James, but the real civil rights icon, now the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus and still a major voice for civil rights, will speak in Houston in February as part of the Houston Public Library's quarterly reading series. As one of the leading advocates of nonviolent civil resistence in the 1960s, Lewis endured multiple police beatings, and bears scars on his head that are still visible today. And his visit to Houston couldn't be better timed, coming on the heels of the Menil's remarkable exhibition Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence.

One of Lewis's major goals is to keep alive the memory of the civil rights movement. To that end, he recently co-wrote the first volume in a graphic novel trilogy about the movement called Marchwhich the Houston Public Library has chosen as the inaugural selection for their new quarterly reading series, HPLQ (Houston Public Library Quarterly). Houstonians can expect to hear him discuss that book, his role in the struggle for equal rights, and his long congressional career. 

 

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