November 21, 2013
By MATT MOORE
The comic book used to teach and inspire civil rights proponents and activists in the 1950s and 1960s is being released digitally amid increased interest in its role in the movement.
Top Shelf Comix said Wednesday that “Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story” was scanned using the original files from the 16-page comic first published in 1958 by the Nyack, N.Y.-Fellowship of Reconciliation. It’s being sold digitally through Comixology, as well as through Amazon for the Kindle, in Apple’s iBookstore and on other platforms.
Its influence was noted by U.S. Rep. John Lewis who said reading it helped galvanize his involvement.
“It was very inspiring ... and when I attended the nonviolence workshops in Nashville at a local church, we all had an opportunity to get a copy of this book we called the ‘comic book,’” he told The Associated Press in August. “We were able to digest the essence of the book as we studied and participated in those nonviolence workshops.”
Andrew Aydin, who co-wrote Lewis’ graphic novel autobiography “March: Book One,” said the comic was used in FOR-run workshops and recalled its impetus ahead of protests in Greensboro, N.C., in February 1960.
“There are several historical citations that tell the story of Ezell Blair getting a copy, reading it, then showing it to his roommate Joseph McNeil,” he said in an email. “When McNeil read it, he insisted to Blair that they stage their own nonviolent protest.”
Their actions are credited for beginning a sit-in movement across the south in a bid for equal rights.
Top Shelf Comix spokesman Leigh Walton said the publisher’s work with FOR and “‘The Montgomery Story’ is a natural response to the success of ‘March: Book One.’ It’s a way not only to demonstrate the roots of the March project, but also to ‘pay it forward,’ so that this influential part of history is not forgotten, and can keep changing lives.”