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Reflections about John Lewis: Good Trouble by MMP High School Intern Erika

by May 1, 2024 0

John Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an American politician and civil rights leader who was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his role as a co-founder and chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which served as the principal channel of direct-action student campaigns in the United States to the civil rights movement during the 1960s. Through his involvement with the SNCC, Lewis conducted voter registration initiatives and played a pivotal role in organizing several major events within the Civil Rights movement. These included the Freedom Rides, aimed at challenging the segregation of Southern interstate bus terminals, the 1963 March on Washington, advocating for the civil and economic rights of African Americans, and the Selma to Montgomery Marches, which protested against the systematic racist barriers of the Jim Crow South that prevented Black Americans’ right to vote. The youngest of the major Civil Rights leaders of the era, Lewis devoted his time during the late 1960s-1980s to continue to advocate for civil rights, primarily through voter registration efforts to secure the legal Civil Rights victories of the 1960s. Lewis entered elective office as an Atlanta city councilman in 1981 and in 1987, was elected to represent Georgia’s 5th District in the House of Representatives. There, he served as a legislator and as Congress’s de facto representative of the Civil Rights Movement. Lewis passed away in July 2020, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Per Lewis’s request, on the day of his funeral, The New York Times published a valedictory essay in which Lewis lauded the Black Lives Matter movement and left a message for future activists saying:

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

On Sunday, April 28th, 2024, the Meaningful Movies Project in collaboration with Fix Democracy First had an exclusive, free online screening of the documentary film, John Lewis: Good Trouble by Dawn Porter which was attended by over 300 participants. The screening of the film was followed by a focused panel discussion with guest speakers Ms. Barbara Arnwine, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, and Ms Cinthia Illan-Vazquez. 

John Lewis: Good Trouble is a documentary film that honors the legacy of John Lewis and his actions as a civil rights leader, activist, and politician. It explores Lewis’ lifelong dedication to activism and his pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement as well as his unwavering commitment to nonviolent protest and his continued advocacy for social justice and equality throughout his career as a congressman representing Georgia’s 5th District. Through archival footage, interviews, and even a viral video of Lewis dancing along to Pharrell Williams “Happy”, John Lewis: Good Trouble celebrates Lewis’s courage, resilience, and enduring impact on American history.

The focused panel discussion following the film’s screening featured Ms. Barbara Arnwine, renowned for her leadership as the President and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition and her significant contributions to critical justice issues, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, a senior advisor with Raben, using his extensive political and ministerial background to support the firm’s Faith Strategies Group, and Ms Cinthia Illan-Vazquez, Executive Director at The Washington Bus, leading initiatives to increase political access and participation for young people across WA. The discussion provided valuable insights into social and political activism, covering topics such as civic engagement, voting rights, demographic shifts, and strategies for maintaining hope and motivation in the face of injustice.

For more information, feel free to visit the following websites:

Transformative Justice Coalition – https://tjcoalition.org

Interfaith Alliance – https://interfaithalliance.org/

The Washington Bus – http://www.washingtonbus.org

S.4 – John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2024 – https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/senate-bill/4

H.R.11 – Freedom to Vote Act – https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/11

Call to Action

  • Register to Vote – Update as needed
  • Help Register Voters – Educate voters on rules & restrictions
  • Become a Poll Worker – Reach out to local election offices
  • Help Other States – Write postcards, phone bank, etc.
  • Contact Elected Officials – Push them to expand voting access
  • Join Organizations – Local & National
  • Advocate to Expand Voting Access – Locally & Nationally
  • Run for Office – We need dedicated people to get elected!
  • Help Get Out the Vote to increase turnout!
  • VOTE!

Some National Democracy/Voting Organizations:

Some Local Democracy/Voting/Community Organizations in WA State:

Current Voting Legislation:

 

About Our Partner: 

Fix Democracy First Education Fund focuses on voter education, voter registration, outreach, and expanding civic participation across Washington state and beyond. We are dedicated to informing and educating the public about voting and democracy issues to increase civic engagement and participation. 

 

Donate to Meaningful Movies Project at: https://meaningfulmovies.org/donate/

Learn more about your native lands at: https://native-land.ca/ 

* Where you can view the film: John Lewis: Good Trouble: https://www.johnlewisgoodtrouble.com/watch-at-home/

* Make Good Trouble song video: https://youtu.be/9nGomUt8gLQ?si=PETsKLKbsQiUsFYQ

Sources used: https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Lewis-American-civil-rights-leader-and-politician

https://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/individuals/john-lewis#:~:text=A%20co%2Dfounder%20and%20chairman,the%20Selma%20to%20Montgomery%20Marches.

 

Article Written by Meaningful Movies Project High School Erika.

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