‘March: Book Three’ by John Lewis, Nate Powell And Andrew Aydin Wins National Book Award
March: Book Three, the third part of a graphic memoir by Congressman John Lewis, created with Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, became the first comic book to win a National Book Award on Wednesday night.
At the 67th National Book Awards in New York City, hosted by comedian and writer Larry Wilmore, the National Book Foundation honored multiple books on the subject of race, and much of the ceremony was framed as a response to the election of Donald Trump.
March tells the story of John Lewis's life and the important role he's played in the struggle for civil rights, including marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. It's been an important and groundbreaking book since it began publication in 2013, but recent events have made its lessons seem even more important for the future. March: Book Three was awarded in the Young People's Literature Category.
Matthew Dessem at Slate describes the moving scene when the award was presented:
Lewis, accepting the award, thanked an elementary school teacher who had encouraged him to read after he was denied a library card because of his race. Illustrator Powell addressed the president-elect directly, asking him “to take this trilogy into your tiny hands and to hold it in your tiny heart.”
On its release, March: Book Three not only debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, but led all three books in the trilogy to hold the top three spots on that list for six continuous weeks. March: Book Two previously won a 2016 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work. March: Book One was given an Author Honor at the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Book Awards in 2014. It was also the first comic book to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award that same year.
Other 2016 National Book Award winners included Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, founders of a black poets' organization called Cave Canem, winning the Literarian Award for Outstanding Achievement to the American Literacy Community, while the Lifetime Achievement Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters went to Robert A. Caro, who wrote The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Ibram X. Kendi won the nonfiction award for Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won for fiction.