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The congressman appeared at Comic-Con to discuss his award-winning graphic novel 'March'

July 23, 2016 at 01:46 AM EDT

Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) commanded the Con-X stage on Friday afternoon during a powerful Q&A with EW’s Nicole Sperling about his biographical graphic novel series, March.

Lewis became the first sitting Congressman to write a graphic novel. Set during the Civil Rights movement, the tale follows Lewis as he works with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fighting for equality in the ’60s. The upcoming Book 3 takes place after the famous March on Washington in 1963 and culminates with the Selma Movement.

“Book 3 is so painful sometimes to read it, to look at the drawing, the images that [illustrator Nate Powell] put on paper,” he said. “You take the words and make the words sing, speak out. When people — even for someone like myself, it’s my story, I lived it — to be beaten on that bridge in Selma, it’s hard to believe that it really did happen.”

The 76-year-old Lewis was joined on stage by co-writer and staffer Andrew Aydin and Powell to discuss the Eisner Award-nominated series. Aydin explained a primary goal of March was to solve the nine-word problem.

“Most children in the United States graduate high school knowing nine words about the Civil Rights movement: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and ‘I Have a Dream,’ and that’s it” he explained. “March is basically the biggest step in a generation in fixing that.”

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In a turbulent political era, Lewis left young readers and activists some sound advice, beyond reading the graphic novel.

“Really study the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. We accepted the way of peace and love as a way of life, of way living,” he said. “Use March as a roadmap, as a way to do what I call get in the way, to get in trouble — what I call good trouble.

“And never hate,” Lewis continued. “We didn’t hate. We didn’t become bitter or hostile. We wanted to redeem the soul of America and created what Dr. King called a beloved community, where you respect the dignity and worth of every human being.”

Book Three of March from Lewis, Aydin, and Powell comes out Aug. 2.

Con-X is a four-day getaway in Embarcadero Marina Park North in downtown San Diego. Made for all fans, Con-X allows anyone to get a taste of Comic-Con for free with panels, Q&A, trivia, music, screenings and more. Con-X runs Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. PT.

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

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