Congressman, Freedom Rider, and the conscience of Congress—those are some of the descriptors given to John Lewis by past and present political leaders interviewed as part of the documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” The film premiered July 3, and Aspen Film is currently streaming the documentary on its site.
"Red state legislators and blue state legislators love him," said Erika Alexander, the co-founder of Color Farm Media and one of the film's prodcuers. "There were all sorts of people who wanted to say what the congressman meant to them, and we were so glad to have that groundswell of support.”
Prominent past politicians like former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were interviewed for the film, along with up-and-coming names like Senator Cory Booker and Stacey Abrams.
Also included is archival footage going back nearly 50 years to Lewis's days as a student organizer and a Freedom Rider—when he and 12 other activists rode interstate buses that hadn't yet desegregated despite Supreme Court rulings deeming the practice unconstitutional. Over the years, Lewis has been a vocal advocate of voting rights, racial justice and ending police brutality, and his activism has often landed him in jail—a guiding principle he calls "good trouble," alluded to in the film's title.
"When we talk about true equal rights, we're talking about people who are working in it, and it is an evergreen thing," said Alexander. "We've got to make sure we're working hard for it, and he's [Lewis] is one of the people who have done it."
As part of that ongoing discussion, Aspen Film's online viewing of the film includes a prerecorded discussion between Lewis and Oprah Winfrey. Viewers can also tune in for a livestreamed panel with the film's director, Dawn Porter, and two other Freedom Riders to discuss Lewis's legacy, and the continued fight for equal rights.
Tickets for the film and live panel discussion are available on Aspen Film's website, which will be archiving the conversation after it is livestreamed.