Mary Moriarty, the new district attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota, was sworn in with a copy of March, a graphic novel based on the life of US congressman and activist John Lewis.
Written by Douglas Helm | Published
Earlier this week, California Congressman Robert Garcia announced that he would be sworn in with his hand on a Superman comic, and now Mary Moriarty has been sworn in as District Attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota, with her hand on a graphic novel. The graphic novel was written by the late Congressman John Lewis. Award-winning and acclaimed graphic novel titled March: book onedescribed Lewis’ life as a key activist during the civil rights movement.
Mary Moriarty is the first LGBTQ+ woman to be elected Hennepin County District Attorney and is known for her fight against racial bias in the criminal justice system. So swearing by a John Lewis graphic novel seems like a very fitting choice. Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, co-writer and illustrator Marchthey even took to Twitter to express their approval.
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell published three volumes March. The trilogy followed Lewis through his time as an early member of the Freedom Fighters, his time as president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and his participation in the Selma to Montgomery marches. In addition to his civil rights activism, Lewis was elected to a seat in the US House of Representatives and served 17 terms.
Before he passed away in 2020, John Lewis wrote another graphic novel titled Joggingwhich was a continuation of his March trilogy. Aydin again co-wrote the novel with illustrations by L. Fury with input from Powell. Jogging was released a year after Lewis’ death and followed Lewis’ life after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, his continued leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, his battles with the Ku Klux Klan, the growing Black Power movement, and more.
John Lewis made history in many ways and March made its own history when it became the first graphic novel to be honored with a National Book Award. It’s clear that Lewis’ life and works continue to inspire people today, as evidenced by Moriarty’s choice to honor him during his own swearing-in ceremony. It is undoubtedly rare for an official to swear by a book of his choice, but it is certainly not unheard of.
Following the aforementioned Robert Garcia’s decision to take his oath of office using a Superman comic, the BBC asked United States Capitol Historical Society President Jane Campbell about the legality of taking the oath using a comic. According to Campbell, “there is no required text upon which a new official must take his oath.” Which means Moriarty has no problem swearing in the John Lewis March or Garcia swearing in a Superman comic that means something to him.
As far as graphic novels go, it would be hard to think of too many more fitting ones than those of John Lewis March swear. Some examples of other texts that have been used for swearing-in ceremonies include the Rosa Parks Pocket Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, and more. It will be interesting to see if the trend of swearing in comics and graphic novels continues in future swearing-in ceremonies.