Rep. John Lewis: A real-life superhero

Civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis made his mark on Comic-Con, leading children on a march through the San Diego Convention Center.

Two young fans, 9-year-old Valerie Medina and 10-year-old Ameera Ali, participated in the march and hailed the congressman as a hero, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.


"He empowers me to fight for what is right, not giving up so easily," Valerie, who was holding the congressman's hand in the march, said.

In school, both girls studied civil rights using Lewis' new series of comic books called "March," which shows historic moments in the struggle for equal rights. They wanted to meet the man they call a real-life superhero.

"A superhero does the right thing and so does he, and superheroes, they are meant to help people, and that's exactly what John Lewis does," Ameera said.

But Lewis said he is simply trying to be an agent of change.

"It is important to educate, to inform, and to inspire another generation of young people to say, 'When I see something that is not right, not fair, I, too, can do something. I can speak up. I can speak out. I can find a way to get in the way,'" Lewis said.

Lewis, 75, was a young man when he got involved in the civil rights movement. He was a key leader who spoke during the march on Washington and even though he was beaten and arrested many times, he still believes change can come through peaceful protest.

That's the message he's hoping his new comic book series will get across to children.

John Lewis, Hosea Williams, Albert Turner, and Bob Mants lead marchers beyond the bridge. Hosea Williams and John Lewis leading marchers over the Alabama River. March 7, 1965. Spider Martin

In 1965, Lewis led some 600 people across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to demand voting rights for black Americans.

They were met by state troopers with night sticks and tear gas.

"On that day, I thought we would be arrested and jailed. But we were beaten and left bloody and unconscious at the foot of the bridge," Lewis said.

It's one of many powerful scenes illustrated in the new comic book series, "March."

The idea came from the congressman's staffer and co-writer Andrew Aydin, who grew up a comic fan.

"That was sort of where I saw justice, where I saw heroes who fought for the right thing to do for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. And nobody embodied that more fully than John Lewis," Aydin said.

Back then, Lewis said, he just wanted to help out.

John Lewis reflects on Selma, 50 years later

"I wanted to make a contribution. I didn't like the sign that said, 'white only.' 'colored only,'" he said.

As a new comic book author, Lewis attended the annual convention called Comic-Con, where tens of thousands of fans celebrate their favorite characters and often dress like them.

This year, the congressman wore his superhero outfit: a trench coat and backpack just like what he marched in decades before, down to the last detail.

"I had in the backpack an apple. I had toothpaste and toothbrush. I had two books. That's what I had in 1965," Lewis said.

Then, surrounded by students, Lewis started walking. He marched the group through the convention hall, and long the way, the crowd grew.

"I walked with little children, wonderful little children. We marched onto the floor of the convention center. And it was unreal, unbelievable. And just throng of people just walkin' with us," Lewis said.

The "March" comic book series is a trilogy, so there's one left to be released. Lewis is working on it right now and they expect for it to be out sometime next year.