In this episode, we’re honoring John Lewis, the civil rights hero and Congressman who died in 2020. The bond that Lewis forged with young Tybre Faw is the subject of a new picture book by best-selling author Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown, the book is called Because of You, John Lewis: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship.
Andrea joins host Suzanne McCabe to talk about the inspiration for the book—the moment she saw Tybre, then 12, reading William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus,” at the Congressman’s funeral.
“I watched this child honoring this civil rights hero, and I wondered what had led him to this moment,” Andrea says.
Tybre first met Lewis in 2018 in Selma, Alabama. His two grandmothers had driven him from their home in Tennessee to the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The bridge was the site of an assault by state troopers on Lewis and hundreds of voting rights demonstrators in March 1965. “Bloody Sunday” would prove to be a turning point in the civil rights movement, outraging the nation and leading to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Later in the episode, U.S. Representative Nikema Williams shares her memories of Lewis and explains how Tybre and other young people are following in the courageous leader’s footsteps. Williams now represents Georgia in the same congressional seat Lewis once held.
Because of You, John Lewis: Pinkney’s new picture book explores Lewis’s remarkable friendship with Tybre Faw.
Meet Tybre Faw: People writes about the new book and Tybre’s bond with John Lewis.
More Books by Andrea Davis Pinkney: Check out these additional titles from the award-winning author.
17 Books About the Civil Rights Movement: These stories for students in grades K-8 introduce young readers to the era’s pivotal figures and events.
Meet Congresswoman Nikema Williams: Williams, who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, met John Lewis when she was starting her career in politics.
Andrea Davis Pinkney, author, Because of You, John Lewis: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship:
“I watched this child honoring this civil rights hero, and I wondered what had led him to this moment.”
“Tybre and John Lewis became close friends. In my research, I learned that John Lewis, himself, had a similar childhood wish, which was to meet his civil rights hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
“That’s what Tybre does. He wakes up, and he wishes, and he marches toward a new future.”
“When John Lewis came out of the back of that church on that day and walked right up to [Tybre], he said he knew that he had been chosen for something very special, and indeed he has.”
“The illustrations are somewhat journalistic. At the same time, [illustrator Keith Henry Brown] has created paintings that are of a spiritual nature.”
“I hope that kids will be inspired to follow along with Tybre Faw and say, ‘Our voices matter.’”
U.S. Representative Nikema Williams (D-GA):
“I can hear the words of Congressman Lewis very clearly when he tells us that, oftentimes, you don’t choose the moment, the moment chooses you.”
“Lewis was everything that you imagine him to be and more. He wasn’t that person to disappoint you.”
“He understood that this work was ongoing and that our fight and our struggle wasn’t just the struggle of a day, a week, or a month, but it was the struggle of a lifetime.”
“Watching Tybre and what he’s going to bring to this country, I am so optimistic for what the future holds.”
“No is not the answer when you’re fighting for justice and equality.”
“We see so many students—children—changing the world, just by making their wishes and their concerns heard.”
“We all have an obligation to speak up and ‘find a way to get in the way.’”
→ Special Thanks
Producer: Bridget Benjamin
Associate producer: Constance Gibbs
Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl
→ Coming Soon
Amy Sarig King on Attack of the Black Rectangles, censorship, and intolerance • Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month: Carmen Agra Deedy, Sonia Manzano, and Claribel A. Ortega • R.L. Stine