John Lewis: Good Trouble

2020; 1 h 36 m; PG for thematic material including some racial epithets/violence and for smoking

Using interviews and rare archival footage, this documentary chronicles Rep. John Lewis’s 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform, and immigration. Using interviews with Lewis, filmed prior to his death last July, director Dawn Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family, and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter’s primarily cinéma verité film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life.

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From FLICC:

“Get into trouble. Good trouble.” That was the motivating philosophy of civil right activist and U.S. Congressman John Lewis, who died last year. His heroic but humble life is memorialized in this 96-minute documentary directed by Dawn Power. Lewis was often bloodied and arrested in his pursuit of justice for Black Americans in the 1960s, and his efforts echo in today’s Black Lives Matter movement. The film is a sober reminder that the civil rights movement has never really ended and will continue as long as people are unfairly persecuted and denied basic rights because of skin color. In this timely doc, Lewis still inspires us: “Don’t get lost in a sea of despair. We all have been called to do something.” – Frank Batavick

Where to Watch:

Available on HBO Max and for rent on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube.

Further Reading:

Variety interview with director Dawn Porter
Dawn Porter (the film’s director) reflects on her time with Congressman Lewis and how preserving his legacy has become even more vital after his death (Lewis was diagnosed with cancer just a month after the film was finished).

John Lewis’s Final Words
In the weeks before his death last July, Rep. Lewis wrote a final essay about the fight for racial justice to be published on the day of his funeral. Listen to his powerful last words read by actor (and friend of the congressman), Morgan Freeman.

Glen Echo Park Protests
Last summer was the 60th anniversary of a significant moment in Maryland civil rights history: the Glen Echo Park protests.

Brotherhood of Liberty
Read about the long-lasting impact of the little-known United Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty, Baltimore’s first civil rights advocacy group, founded in 1885.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert
In this 2016 television interview, Rep. Lewis remembers his experiences during the Civil Rights movement and shares how he hopes his graphic novel series MARCH will inspire future generations.