John Lewis breaks down while accepting National Book Award - CBS46 News

"This is unreal": John Lewis moved to tears accepting National Book Award

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Congressman John Lewis broke down as he accepted a National Book Award for the third book in his trilogy March.

In the book, Lewis, recalls a first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement. It is a graphic novel, and the award marks the first time a comic book or graphic novel has won the award. Lewis accepted the award for Young People's Literature with his co-writer, Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell. 

While accepting one of the nation's highest honors for writing a book, an emotional John Lewis recalled when he couldn't even get into a library to get books to read as a teenager. 

He goes on to talk about a teacher in elementary school who encouraged him to read, in the face of the odds in rural Alabama.

“I remember in 1956 when I was 16 years old, with some of my brothers and sisters and cousins, going down to the public library and trying to get library cards,” he said in tears. “We were told that libraries were for ‘whites only’ and not for ‘coloreds.’ To come here and receive this award, this honor, is too much.”

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