Friday, December 02, 2016

TOP STORY >> National Book Award

Sherwood native Nate Powell has won a National Book Award for “March, Book Three,” which he illustrated with authors Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Andrew Aydin.

The award is the top prize in American literature.

“Powell is the first and only cartoonist ever to win the National Book Award,” according to his website.

The “March” series, which has won critical praise, ex-plains the civil rights movement in a way that can more easily be embraced by young people.

The Georgia congressman worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King to win voting rights for blacks and end segregation.

Powell, 38, is a graduate of North Little Rock High School and now lives in Bloomington, Ind. He is also a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York.

In an emotional acceptance speech, Lewis said, “Some of you know I grew up very, very poor in rural Alabama. Very few books in our home. And 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. And we were told that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds, and to come here and receive this award, this honor, it’s too much.”

“I had a wonderful teacher in elementary school who told me, ‘Read, my child, read.’ And I tried to read everything. I love books,” Lewis said.

Powell’s acceptance speech included a challenge to President-elect Donald Trump, “I challenge you to take this trilogy into your tiny hands and allow your tiny heart to be transformed by it. None of us are alone in this. Not even you.”

Powell told the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, “Our work was in the spirit of illuminating those participants whose contributions have been less celebrated, but as the trilogy progressed, it clearly told a story of 2016 as much as it did of 1964, and I found myself increasingly focused on future readers.

“As my two daughters grow into the world, as their perspectives rapidly expand, ‘March’ is a road map, providing a real sense of continuity and empathy for those who came before—and how best to move forward. In such a toxic time, I hope this continues to be a part of the antidote for which we’re all hungry,” Powell said.

His animated illustrations in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s documentary “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot” are expected to be seen by one million students in 50,000 schools across the nation.

Powell’s next book, “Come Again,” is due in 2018. He was the artist for the upcoming comic book “Two Dead,” written by Van Jensen, about a 1947 murder-suicide of a Little Rock police chief and his lieutenant.

Powell has also won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, two Eisner Awards, two Ignatz Awards, two Harvey Awards, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, four YALSA Great Graphic Novels For Teens selections, a Best American Comics selection, and has been a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize.