Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon and the last of the Big Six civil rights activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Friday at age 80. He is being remembered by congressional colleagues, civil rights leaders and former presidents as a “titan” of the struggle against racial discrimination.
Lewis had been treated for advanced-stage pancreatic cancer after being diagnosed during a routine medical exam. He publicly disclosed his diagnosis in late December.
His death comes just as a documentary about his life was released, titled, ‘Good Trouble’.
The documentary’s title, it should be noted, comes straight from Lewis.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” he wrote in June 2018, months ahead of the midterm election. “Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Lewis worked as both an activist and a politician to protect the voting rights of Black Americans, and the documentary preaches that message in a way that the departed Congressman no longer can. According to Mashable, the documentary gave a picture of the man who found his voice during a politically and socially turbulent period in U.S. history. He was inspired as a young activist after hearing King, Jr. speak in the 1950s, and the movie charts his path through that time to the March on Washington and the political battles that would follow.
Good Trouble also lives on as a worthy standard-bearer of Lewis’s legacy as a defender of equal rights. It looks at his storied life and career in the context of our current moment, with a particular focus on the 2018 midterm election. Lewis worked as both an activist and a politician to protect the voting rights of Black Americans, and the documentary preaches that message in a way that the departed Congressman no longer can.
The Civil Rights icon recorded a virtual one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey to play after every in-theater and virtual cinema screening of the supposedly July 3rd released Magnolia Pictures and Participant film.
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, the protests all across the nation and the world against police brutality and the renewed spotlight on Black Lives Matter movement, the duo certainly cut to the chase according to Deadline.
You can stream Good Trouble as a rental right now through a number of content providers, including Amazon and YouTube.
Watch a trailer of Good Trailer below:
Below are some remarks by some prominent figures:
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
“Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well.”
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
“John Lewis was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation – from the determination with which he met discrimination at lunch counters and on Freedom Rides, to the courage he showed as a young man facing down violence and death on Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the moral leadership he brought to the Congress for more than 30 years. ”
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis. As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope. And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union. America can best honor John’s memory by continuing his journey toward liberty and justice for all.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON
“From a small farm in Alabama, to life-risking service in the civil rights movement, to three decades in Congress, he was always ‘walking with the wind,’ steered by a moral compass that told him when to make good trouble and when to heal troubled waters. Always true to his word, his faith, and his principles, John Lewis became the conscience of the nation.”
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
“He made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just. John never shied away from what he called ‘good trouble’ to lead our nation on the path toward human and civil rights. Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude.”
THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
“The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus.”
“He fought harder and longer than anyone in our nation’s continuing battle for civil rights and equal justice.”
THE REV. JESSE JACKSON
“John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like. He sacrificed and personifies a New Testament prophet.”
THE REV. AL SHARPTON
“My friend, role model, and activist extraordinaire has passed. Congressman John Lewis taught us how to be an activist. He changed the world without hate, rancor or arrogance. A rare and great man.”
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”