7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #700: In Tribute to John Lewis

h1 July 19th, 2020 by jules

From Book Two of the March trilogy


Hello, dear Imps. I had plans for today’s post that I am temporarily setting aside, given the news of the passing of Representative John Lewis. It’s a tremendous loss, and I want to do something here at 7-Imp to mark it.

I decided to re-post some of the illustrations from the great Jabari Asim’s Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis. This picture book, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, was one of the best of 2016. Back then, I had interviewed Asim about the book over at Kirkus. In the book, Asim shows us but one aspect of the legendary congressman’s childhood, and by doing so he eloquently captures the man who grew up to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves”—just as he did as a child for the chickens, whom he not only preached to but kept from being traded to neighboring farmers. It’s a beautiful book that gives children a glimpse into Lewis’s childhood. Below are a few spreads from that book (which I had posted here at 7-Imp in 2016).

And below that are some images from the books in the award-winning March graphic novel trilogy, written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. The three books were released from 2013 to 2016, and there is a handsome slipcase set that exists, which was published in 2016. The books are superb. This acceptance speech at the 2016 National Book Awards was something else:



I’m re-posting these spreads too. (I had originally posted them here at 7-Imp in 2017.)

We all know 2020 has been one hell of a year. (Translated: As Glen Weldon would say, the world is pretty much a diaper fire.) Have mercy, how can we go on without Lewis? It’s easy to feel hopeless. I guess, as heartbreaking as it is right now, we look to his own words. There’s this tweet, for one, that says, partly: “We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize.”


From the Preaching to the Chickens:


“Everyone on the farm had work to do. ‘Work and put your trust in God,’
John’s mama liked to say, ‘and God’s gonna take care of his children. …'”

(Click to enlarge spread and read rest of text)


“In a soft voice, John would say to them, ‘Enjoy this day that God has given us.’
The chickens, looking straight at him, seemed to understand.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“As much as John loved spring, he loved church even more. …”
(Click to enlarge spread and read rest of text)



From the March trilogy:


From Book One: “By the time I was five I could read it myself, and one phrase struck me strongly, though I couldn’t comprehend its full meaning at the time —
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. …”
(Click to enlarge)


From Book One: “Jim talked about the Montgomery bus boycott, about war resistance, about nonviolence. He spoke of Gandhi, this little brown man from India using
the way of nonviolence to free an entire nation of people. …”

(Click to enlarge)


From Book One: ” … February 27, 1960 was my first arrest, the first of many.”
(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge cover)


From Book Two
(Click to enlarge)


From Book Two


From Book Two
(Click to enlarge)


From Book Two: “… Y’all are Freedom Riders.”
(Click to enlarge)


From Book Two: “But that night, we had more serious concerns.”
(Click to enlarge)


From Book Two: “… Out of everyone who spoke at the march,
I’m the only one still around.”

(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge cover)


From Book Three: “We are going to stay here in Selma until
every person of color can register and vote.”

(Click to enlarge)


From Book Three: “… Registering to vote is an act of commitment
to the American ideal. It is patriotic.”

(Click to enlarge)


From Book Three: “… Demonstrations must continue.
The pressure must be kept on.”

(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge cover)


All images from the March trilogy are reproduced by permission of the publisher, Top Shelf Productions. (They are re-posted from this 2017 7-Imp post.)

PREACHING TO THE CHICKENS: THE STORY OF YOUNG JOHN LEWIS. Copyright © 2016 by Jabari Asim. Illustrations © 2016 by E. B. Lewis. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, New York. (They are re-posted from this 2016 7-Imp post.)

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I do hope you all leave some kicks, but for me, for now, I’ll just say that I’m grateful John Lewis was here as long as he was. And I’m thankful, as so many others are, for his contributions to civil rights in this country. I remain in awe of him. It’s hard to imagine a world without him. May he rest in peace.

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #700: In Tribute to John Lewis”

  1. Jules,
    Thank you for this tribute. I love these books and right now, getting the boxed March trilogy set is impossible.
    We lost an icon this week and we still have so much work to do. We need to finish what he began.
    It’s hard to list kicks in times like these. Family, friends, the night sky and the sun each day are my kicks this week.

  2. Thank you for these gorgeous spreads and another chance to reflect on what an incredible and inspiring human John Lewis was. That acceptance speech makes me cry every time I watch it.

    I love the March graphic novel trilogy. I buy books for many of my in-custody clients, and often given the March trilogy it to young (under 25) clients, many of whom were not familiar with his story.

    While I am sad, I still have short kicks this week:
    1) Being lucky enough to hear John Lewis speak in person. A law school professor took a few of us to hear him speak at an event and introduced us all to him afterwards. He was gracious and kind and we were all in awe of him.
    2) This story of how his speech was edited and the passion and fire he had at 23 years old to write so bravely: https://twitter.com/studentactivism/status/1284472208006545408
    3) Also, I shared this on my instagram stories, but how awesome is this of John Lewis at ComicCon Cosplaying as himself? His ability to connect with everyone, especially younger generations, was amazing: https://twitter.com/BridgetMarie/status/1284335406000070657
    4) John Lewis was a hero and a national treasure, and I am so glad he was able to witness the current protests before he died. He had said in his last interviews how inspired and moved he was by the recent protests in America and all over the world. We have to keep on, to honor him. (And now I’m crying again.)
    5) Portland’s protesters, especially the Protest Moms last night, standing between the police/feds and the rest of the protesters.
    6) Local and national reps taking a stand for my state and city.
    7) Sunshine and strong coffee and Daisy.
    7.5) Hope. Always hope.

    I hope everyone has a good week. Stay safe and stay well Imps!

  3. Thank you, Jules, for sharing these words and images. What a legacy. I hope people moved by his work and his life will pay it forward, help others, and keep fighting for what’s right.

  4. Hello, you all! So good to see your names today. Thanks for all those truly inspiring links and kicks, Rachel — and all of you. Hugs to you all.

  5. This is a wonderful tribute. Thank you for taking the time to share this and honor him.

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