Elected Official Sworn Into Office On Award-Winning Graphic Novel

Mary Moriarty, the new Hennepin county Attorney in Minnesota, took her oath of office on a copy of March, the graphic novel based off of the life of U.S. Congressmen and activist, John Lewis.

By Douglas Helm | Published

Earlier this week California Congressman Robert Garcia announced he would be sworn in with his hand on a Superman comic and now Mary Moriarty took her oath for the position of County Attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota with her hand on a graphic novel. The graphic novel was penned by the late congressman John Lewis. The award-winning and critically acclaimed graphic novel, titled March: Book One, chronicled Lewis’s life as a key activist during the civil rights movement.

Mary Moriarty is the first LGBTQ+ woman to be elected as Hennepin County Attorney and is known for her fighting racial bias in the criminal justice system. So, taking her oath on John Lewis’s graphic novel seems like a very fitting choice. Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, the co-writer and illustrator on March, respectively, even chimed in on Twitter to express their approval.

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell released three volumes of March. The trilogy followed Lewis during his time as an original member of the Freedom Fighters, his time as chairman 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 U.S. House of Representatives and served 17 terms.

Before passing away in 2020, John Lewis penned one more graphic novel titled Run, which was a sequel to his March trilogy. Aydin once again co-wrote the novel with illustrations by L. Fury with contributions by Powell. Run was released the year after Lewis’ death and followed Lewis’s life after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, his continued stewardship of The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, his battles with the Ku Klux Klan, the burgeoning Black Power movement, and more.

Cover art for Run, the sequel to March

John Lewis made history in many ways and March made some history of its own when it became the first graphic novel to be honored with a National Book Award. Clearly, Lewis’s life and actions continue to inspire people today, as evidenced by Moriarty’s choice to honor him during her own swearing-in ceremony. It’s undoubtedly rare for an official to swear an oath of a book of their choosing, but it’s certainly not unheard of.

Following the aforementioned Robert Garcia’s decision to swear his oath using a Superman comic, BBC asked the president of the United States Capitol Historical Society Jane Campbell about the legalities of swearing in using a comic book. According to Campbell, “there is no required text upon which an incoming officeholder must take their oath.” Meaning it’s no problem for Moriarty to swear her oath using John Lewis’s March or for Garcia to swear in on a Superman comic that holds meaning to him.

As far as graphic novels go, it would be hard to think of too many more fitting than John Lewis’s March to swear an oath. Some examples of other texts that have been used for swearing-in ceremonies include Rosa Parks’s pocket Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, and more. It will be interesting to see if the trend of swearing on comic books and graphic novels will continue with future swearing-in ceremonies.