With the passing of Congressman Lewis, America loses a leader, a hero, and a benchmark for our collective moral compass. He leaves us however, with an enormous legacy to celebrate, to honor, and ultimately, a challenge to live up to.
“John Lewis: Get in the Way” Returns to PBS on July 23.
Kathleen Dowdey documentary “John Lewis – Get in the Way” is the first biographical documentary about John Lewis, an inspiring portrait of one man cast into extraordinary times and his unhesitating dedication to seeking justice for the marginalized and ignored. The film spans more than half a century, tracing Lewis’ journey of courage, confrontations and hard-won triumphs.
The son of sharecroppers, John Lewis grew up in rural isolation, seemingly destined to a bleak, segregation-imposed future. But his fate took a different turn, and Lewis rose from Alabama’s Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, his humble origins forever linking him to those whose voices customarily go unheard. A man of the people, a Congressional elder statesman, Lewis is as exceptional as he is ordinary.
At the age of 15, John Lewis’ life changed forever when he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. It was 1955, during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Lewis listened with rapt attention as the young preacher called for resistance to the harsh injustice of segregation. Notably, Dr. King exhorted those listening to fight not with weapons but with proven tools of nonviolence.
Lewis embraced Dr. King’s spiritual call with a fervor that would determine the course of the rest of his life. A student activist in the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis was arrested and jailed for the first time during the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in 1960. A front-line general during the 1961 Freedom Rides, he was repeatedly assaulted by angry, unrestrained mobs.
Through never-before-seen interviews shot over 20 years, Lewis, a masterful storyteller, tells the gripping tale of his role in these history-making events. Other key interviewees include civil rights activists Andrew Young, C.T. Vivian, Juanita Abernathy and Bernard Lafayette, plus Lewis’ congressional colleagues Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Emanuel Cleaver and Amory Houghton.
Once an activist pushing from the outside, Lewis, now 76 years old, has become a determined legislator making noise on the inside. Considered by many to be the conscience of Congress, with equal measures of modesty and forcefulness, Lewis strives to persuade D.C. powerbrokers to hear the voices of the unheard. Despite setbacks – and there have been many – John Lewis’ eyes remain on the prize.
Click here to watch the documentary.
CNN: Civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis dead at 80
CNN: John Lewis wants to see more “Good Trouble”
CNN: ‘He is free at last.’ Activists and politicians honor John Lewis
Axios: Obama pays tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis and his legacy
BBC.com: Obituary: Representative John LewisAPNews.com: John Lewis, lion of civil rights and Congress, dies at 80
Photos: AALDEF Honors Congressman John Lewis, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Simone Wu with 2013 Justice in Action Awards
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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