The Colleges will celebrate the life of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis with a screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble” on campus and online on Tuesday, Sept. 22. After the film, a panel of educators and local activists will discuss Lewis’ legacy, as well as how to uphold his commitment to voting rights and civil liberties for all Americans. The screening and panel discussion will be simulcast on the Quad jumbotron, the Geneva Room, the Sanford Room, the Fish Screening Room, and online by the Smith Center for the Arts. The documentary screening begins at 7 p.m., with the panel discussion immediately following.
The evening’s speakers and panelists include: President Joyce P. Jacobsen, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Khuram Hussain, Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School and President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21, Geneva activist Theresa Johnson and member of the Geneva chapter of the NAACP Sidney Moore.
Until his death in July, Lewis was a legendary advocate for civil rights and a representative of Georgia in Congress. The “John Lewis: Good Trouble” documentary traces significant moments of his life and career including stories from his upbringing as the son of a tenement farmer, to his role in the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1963, Lewis delivered a powerful speech at the March on Washington alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Two years later, images of Lewis being beaten by the police at the Selma March shocked the nation. He continued to fight for civil liberties even in the months before his death. He supported the global demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism that followed the killing of George Floyd.
The title of the documentary is taken from Lewis’ urgent call to action made via Twitter in 2018. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. 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,” he wrote.
In 2007, Lewis gave the Convocation Address at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he also received the President’s Medal from President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21.
Lewis said of his visit to the Colleges, “I have been all over this country to speak at colleges and universities, and let me tell you, there is a sense of community here that I have not seen elsewhere. Walk tall. Walk with the wind. Let the spirit of these Colleges be your guide.… Today’s experience has been like being at the top of the mountain – now tomorrow morning I have to return to the valley because there is still work to do.”
Cider and popcorn will be available on the Quad. Blankets from Student Activities will be available on the Quad. Volunteers will be tabling with voter registration forms and applications for absentee ballots. The Smith Opera House online event is open to the public.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Media and Society, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Student Affairs and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. The event is made possible by the Smith Opera House and Magnolia Films.