Home Graphic novel 493 OUT OF 5,077? | HPPR

493 OUT OF 5,077? | HPPR

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Melody Graves of Amarillo, Texas, for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club. Today we continue to watch the March trilogy, which is a three-part graphic novel written about the discrimination and oppression suffered by the great John Lewis.

The third book opens with three girls being bombed in a church in Birmingham. This event sparks a lot of violence and murder, but Dr. King reminded everyone to keep fighting for their rights. The story then flashes between 2009, with Louis shaking hands with President Obama at the inauguration, and back to the struggles Louis faced in the 1960s with African Americans fighting for their right to vote.

The oppression continued with killings and bombings. And, when Dr. King met with President Johnson about the Voting Rights Act, Johnson refused to put it into effect.

Malcolm X is murdered and another march is organized in 1965. At Pettus Bridge, Lewis is beaten in the head, and while in hospital Dr. King visits him. This march is now called Bloody Sunday, the gateway to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Flash forward to 2009, and Barack Obama’s inauguration as evidence of how far Lewis has come. We owe him a lot for his contributions to the fight. The life of John Lewis should be studied by every American. His life was not just about the rights of black people, but those of all who were or are oppressed.

In September 2020 I had the opportunity to go to many places that March talked about. Being in these places really encouraged me to start advocating harder. As I walked over Pettus Bridge and remembered those who fought for my rights on Bloody Sunday, I knew I had to continue to carry on Mr Lewis’ legacy. Standing at the church where the little girls died from the bomb, my heart was broken. Walking through the bus station where the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place was so empowering. The museum still has part of the actual floor of the original bus station. It was a trip I will never forget

As a result of these experiences, I am forever empowered to have at least some of the impact Mr. Lewis had in this world. And, as I am empowered to continue to make an impact in this world, I need to reflect on what is happening locally right now.

We have people who are oppressed, people who feel like they lost their voice in our recent elections, where only 493 people voted out of 5,077 registered voters.

It is clear that we have to do something. We need to value our own voices. And we must not stop until our voices are heard loud and clear. We have to understand that we have value and that people like John Lewis came before us and fought for our right to stand at the polls.

It’s time for us citizens and residents to start showing up for a better future. Our children watch what we do. They no longer do what we tell them to do, but they do what they see us do.

So it becomes extremely important that we come out and vote, so we create a united force that says we’re here to fight for each other. We must demand that others listen to us as we create the change we know we are worthy of throughout our lives. It becomes important to understand that oppression is not for a specific group. Anyone can face oppression. And as easily as a group can be oppressed, any group can be oppressed.

So what we need to do is start speaking out against the oppression that we see. We must ensure that everyone’s voices are heard. And when we’re at a table, it’s important that we create space for others to join us. If we want to be the change that John Lewis fought for, that Dr King fought for, we must create a united front to make change happen.

These are Melody Graves and Amarillo for the HPR Radio Readers Book Club.