Entertainment

‘Good Trouble:’ A Reminder That John Lewis Still Matters

A Documentary That America Needs Now More Than Ever

‘Good Trouble’ remains the phrase most associated with Congressman John Lewis. He flipped what his parents told him not to do into something that became his life calling, working toward justice for all by getting into good trouble.
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” serves as the documentary that lays out Lewis’ life – from preaching to chickens on the family farm to being a student activist in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful band of justice crusaders to running for elected office against his friend Julian Bond to leading a non-violent sit-in on the House floor of Congress in 2016. This film covers it all while leaving its viewers wanting to spend more time at Lewis’ feet.
Dawn Porter, the producer/director of “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” met the congressman while preparing for her Netflix series “Bobby Kennedy for President.”
“He was the star of the show,” Porter said about Lewis. “He then came to me and asked if I would like to do something on him. Of course, I leaped at the chance because who wouldn’t want to do something about John Lewis?”
The film follows Lewis on a rigorous schedule going from speaking engagements to meeting with constituents at his Capitol Hill office. Everywhere he went, he was joined at the hip to his dedicated Chief of Staff Michael Collins reflective of a connection undergirded by mutual respect – a father-son relationship.
The film includes interviews with his colleagues in Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Another highlight features comments from the late Rep. Elijah Cummings whose words cemented the view that Lewis had earned the high esteem of all with whom he worked.
“It was important to have his contemporaries as well as these elders who not only were working in Congress with him but who also were activists,” Porter said. “They understood.”
Cummings says while being interviewed in the film, “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for John Lewis in the airport.”
Lewis’ siblings say their brother always stood out as their feelings of love and admiration seem to leap from the screen.
“They did worry a lot about him,” said Porter recalling the perspectives gleaned from Lewis’ siblings as they recounted his contributions.
The production shows Lewis on a sound stage offering his perspective on his life as seen through archival news footage from the Civil Rights Movement. Porter said she reminded him to reflect on the young John Lewis so he could tell his own story. At one point as he’s being prepared for his commentary on a scene he had just viewed, Lewis says about the footage, “I’ve never seen that before.”
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” is a Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media release in collaboration with CNN Films, Trilogy Films and Color Farm Media founded by actress/producer Erika Alexander, best known for her role as Maxine Shaw on the series “Living Single.”
Lewis appeared in the film even after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and while clearly losing weight, he reportedly moved through his schedule at a high-energy pace.
The timing of the documentary remains critical as weeks of peaceful protests continue. When Lewis and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appeared together at Black Lives Matter Plaza on Sunday, June 7, the dots would be connected. It seemed Lewis sought to encourage today’s generation’s nonviolent protests as he similarly did in his early 20s, getting into ‘good trouble.’

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