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New Documentary ‘Good Trouble’ Celebrates John Lewis

Longtime congressman marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

Congressman John Lewis is the subject of the new documentary "John Lewis: Good Trouble."

John Lewis is a 17-term Georgia congressman with deep roots in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A new documentary "John Lewis: Good Trouble" looks to his life and career. You can support Digital Gym Cinema by purchasing a virtual ticket to the film starting Friday.

John Lewis marched with Martin Luther King Jr., he was one of the original Freedom Riders, and he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. Throughout his life and career he has led by example, so his life is rich source material

Documentaries can take many shapes and this one by Dawn Porter is a celebration of Lewis' life and career with adoring comments from a range of people including Hilary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, James Clyburn, the late Elijah Cummings, Stacey Abrams, Eric Holder, Nancy Pelosi, and Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The only hint of criticism comes in a brief section about his contentious political battle with friend and fellow civil rights leader Julian Bond for Atlanta’s fifth congressional district in 1986. But aside from that the film is a glowing portrait of a remarkable and passionate man who bled for what he believed in.

Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

John Lewis during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Lewis often speaks these words and they provide the film with its title: "My philosophy is very simple, when you see something that is not right, That is not fair, that is not just, say something, do something, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble."

The film and Lewis remind us of all the good trouble Lewis got into on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s as well as after taking office. Lewis brags that he's been placed in handcuff 45 times, arrested 40 times during the civil rights movement and even a few more times since he became a congressman.

The new documentary puts current issues of race into a larger context to show how the things Lewis fought for and the advances he helped achieve especially in regards to voting rights are coming under attack again. The film is an inspiring reminder that the battle for freedom and justice in an ongoing one that we all need to partake in.

The film's website even includes links to inspire concrete action in regards to voting and it specifically encourages people to make good trouble.

"Good Trouble" is not great art. It is well crafted and benefits from great access to its subject. But it is an important document of how one person has dedicated his life to a cause and has helped provoke change. We need to be reminded of the struggles Lewis faced and of a history we need to remember as we face new challenges to voter rights and to democracy.

As part of DGC@Home, there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Lewis and Oprah Winfrey, filmed last month and being made available exclusively for virtual cinema screenings.

You can get your virtual ticket from DGC@Home here.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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