Meeting John Lewis

Yearly, I attend book events. Especially children and young adult book events. One evening, I attended an event at the New School without doing my research. I just showed up to listen to the different authors and illustrators read from their stories.

I sat in the back and kept my eye on the time. It was a weekday and I had work the next morning.

That night Congressman  John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell were given the National Book Award for Young People Literature.

That night, I was completely mesmerized by Joh Lewis’ speech. His voice coming over the podium was so strong. I’ve been to many book events but this one by far was the first one that brought me to a special place. The voice said church, family, country, past, present, future. In a way it even said me.. I sat upright and looked at the program again.

Is that John Lewis? The one who marched with King?

To sit in his presence at that moment in time was a gem.

When he finished speaking, the entire house stood up and clapped and clapped.

I didn’t even know he was sharing his story via graphic novels.

After the event, he stood around shaking hands and speaking to the book lovers. Everyone stood around outside talking in the autumn breeze. Of course, the man of the hour was John Lewis. Young people listened to him and revenced him.

Thank You, I said to him before he signed my book and then again afterwards.

Thank you.

I’m grateful God allowed me time and space to share my gratitude with the Civil Rights leader while he was alive. Even if all I could think of saying was, Thank You.

 

Christopher Paul Curtis

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I was super excited to meet Christopher Paul Curtis at the National Book Awards Ceremony this month! I attended without finding out who were on the finalist list. I love surprises…especially if I can control them in some way.

The first thing I would always do when I arrive at the New School (which is where the ceremony is held) is visit the book seller’s table. I do this even before looking at the program. Looking at the books for sell tells me who I will be listening to that night.

When I came across The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis, I asked the vendor if he Mr. Curtis was going to be there that night. Sometimes authors don’t show up to the event.

Yeah, I believe so, he responded.

And, sure enough. He was there!

I was really happy to meet him in person because his writing kept me up at night as a little girl. His books were among the many books my favorite librarian, Mr. Hardy, placed in my hand when I was in middle school.

When I introduced myself to him during the intermission, he looked at me and smiled.

It’s a pleasure meeting you, Lystria. Do you teach?

Yes! I do! How did you know?

I actually didn’t. I didn’t know weather to ask if you taught or how old you were! You look so young.

Thank you, Thank you. I get that I a lot. I teach third grade.

Oh, third grade! I still remember my third grade teacher.

He signed my book and we spoke a little bit about his writing habits. I had remembered some of his habits by reading all of his books closely over and over again as a little girl.

Do you still wake up at 6 to write?

He started smiling. Well, Lystria, it’s getting earlier and earlier.

After we spoke, I met other authors. But meeting him and hearing him speak was by far the most nostalgic and settling for me.

Before I left, he introduced me to his wife Mrs. Curtis and author, Andrea Pinkney. They all looked at me in my eyes and told me how thankful they were that I was teaching.

Thank you for teaching our children.  They told me constantly.

I would be lying if I told you I did not leave that event feeling better then when I walked in. The same feeling I felt after reading  Bud, not Buddy or The Watsons go to Birmingham had returned to me when I met Christopher Paul Curtis in person.