Every so often, a graphic novel comes out that is so remarkable and so important, it breaks out of traditional categories, forcing readers and institutions to reconsider their expectations of what the comics medium can do. In 1992, for example, Art Spiegelman's Maus depicted the life of a Holocaust survivor with such innovative power that the Pulitzer Prize committee issued Spiegelman a "Special Award."
Now, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights has honored March: Book One, the first volume of Congressman John Lewis' civil rights memoir co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell, with a "Special Recognition" award at the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards. Congressman Lewis and Andrew Aydin were present for the ceremony last week in Washington, shown above accepting the award from Ethel Kennedy.
Fittingly for an icon of the civil rights movement, this is Congressman Lewis' second honor from the RFK Book Awards; his prose autobiography Walking with the Wind won in 1999. The awards, founded in 1980, celebrate those books which best reflect the late Senator Kennedy's ideals of justice, human rights, and equality of opportunity. In his capacity as attorney general, senator, and presidential candidate, Kennedy played a significant role in the civil rights movement throughout the 60s, and indeed will appear in the forthcoming second and third volumes of March.
This honor also places the March team in fine company in another way: the RFK Book Awards' only previous use of the Special Recognition was also for comics, awarded in 1994 to the legendary editorial cartoonist Herblock.
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Chris Staros Top Shelf Productions PO Box 1282 Marietta GA 30061-1282 USA