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Good Trouble: The Story of John Lewis and the Fight for Civil Rights

Good Trouble: The Story of John Lewis and the Fight for Civil Rights

1. Civil Rights activist John Lewis once said, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” Today, the John Lewis good trouble quote still inspires people to action, in pursuit of equity and social justice.

From his early days as an activist in the heart of the U.S. Civil Rights movement to his distinguished career as a U.S. Representative, John Lewis left an unforgettable mark on the fight against racial injustice and inequality. In this post, we’ll illuminate his remarkable legacy.

Lewis’s legacy is steeped in unwavering courage, resilience, and a commitment to justice. His words and actions continue to inspire generations to come by proving that the path to justice often requires the courage to stir things up.

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Read on for more details on the story of John Lewis and the fight for Civil Rights!

  • Learn about the life and work of John Lewis
  • Delve into the concept behind the John Lewis “good trouble” quote
  • Explore Lewis’s legacy of courage and activism
  • See the power of “necessary trouble” in social justice
  • Examine the role of peaceful protesters in social change
  • Gain insight into Lewis’s courageous leadership and advocacy work

In this blog, you’ll find:

  •  The life story of John Lewis and his historic impact on social justice and Civil Rights
  • What did John Lewis say about “good trouble” and its impact?
  • Topics to explore including justice, equality, activism, allyship, and more
  • Ways for remote and hybrid teams to explore “necessary trouble”
  • Ideas for gaining courage to join the fight for Civil Rights and social change
  • The actions and courage behind the John Lewis good trouble quote
  • Great team building topics to cover during Black History Month and beyond
  • Stories to boost your spirit for teams ready to take action and do something


John Lewis

Pictured: John Lewis.

Who Was John Lewis?

John Lewis, a towering figure in the American Civil Rights movement, left a lasting mark on American history. Born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama, Lewis’s early years were shaped by the harsh realities of racial segregation and discrimination. As a result, his beginnings laid the foundation for a life dedicated to justice, equality, and activism.

Lewis’s awakening to the injustices of segregation came early in life. Inspired by the activism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he became a fervent advocate for change. At the young age of 23, Lewis played a pivotal role in the iconic March on Washington in 1963.

In addition, he was a key member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and supporter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As well as that, Lewis organized sit-ins, participated in Freedom Rides, and faced violent opposition during the Selma to Montgomery marches.

Later In Life

Transitioning from grassroots activism to formal politics, John Lewis carried his passion for justice into the political arena. Indeed, he was elected as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District in 1986. Lewis served in this role until his passing in 2020, at the age of 80. Throughout his tenure, Lewis championed causes such as voters’ rights, affordable healthcare, and gun control. As a result, he became the embodiment of moral authority on Capitol Hill.

Lewis’s legacy as a Civil Rights leader is marked by unwavering commitment and unmatched courage. His advocacy for nonviolent protesters and civil disobedience became emblematic of the broader movement. In fact, despite facing brutal violence and numerous arrests, Lewis remained resolute in his pursuit of equality. Due to this, he even earned the nickname “the conscience of the Congress.”

Overall, John Lewis’s contributions to the fight for equality extended far beyond his legislative achievements. His lifelong dedication to ensuring every American had the right to vote led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a result, Lewis’s fearless commitment to justice has transcended generations, inspiring countless individuals to join the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights.

Good Trouble Mural

Pictured: John Lewis Mural in Richmond, Virgina.

The Concept of “Good Trouble”

The “good trouble” John Lewis quote encapsulates a profound philosophy that defined his approach to activism. Coined during the height of the Civil Rights movement, this phrase embodies the idea that meaningful change often requires disruption, confrontation, and a willingness to challenge unjust systems.

Moreover, Lewis understood that passive acceptance of injustice was insufficient. Instead, he advocated for purposeful and strategic disruption to draw attention to the systemic inequalities plaguing American society. Whether through sit-ins, Freedom Rides, or marches, Lewis believed in the transformative power of nonviolent but disruptive actions.

Furthermore, the John Lewis good trouble quote became a rallying cry for those ready to confront discrimination and injustice head-on. Even if it meant breaking unjust laws, civil disobedience was necessary for progress. “Good trouble” conveyed the notion that, in the pursuit of justice, individuals should be willing to make necessary trouble to provoke awareness and bring about change.

Even today, the concept of “good trouble” remains highly relevant. It serves as a timeless reminder that the fight for justice requires proactive engagement. Lewis’s mantra inspires individuals to resist complacency and take meaningful action.

Furthermore, “good trouble” encourages a reevaluation of the role of individuals in shaping societal norms. Lewis believed that ordinary people, through acts of courage and conviction, could become catalysts for broader societal transformation.

John Lewis Marching

Pictured: John Lewis (left) posing with a fellow marcher.

Legacy of Courage and Activism

John Lewis’s legacy is synonymous with courage, unwavering commitment to justice, and tireless activism. From his early involvement in the Civil Rights movement to his distinguished career in politics, Lewis left an unforgettable mark on the fight for equality and peace.

In addition, Lewis’s activism was characterized by courage that knew no bounds. His dedication to nonviolent protest and civil disobedience showcased a courageous spirit that inspired countless others. For example, one of Lewis’s most impactful initiatives was his leadership in the Selma to Montgomery marches.

The brutal violence inflicted upon marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge became a turning point in the fight for voting rights. As a result, Lewis’s resilience in the face of adversity brought national attention to the need for legislative action. Eventually, this led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Furthermore, Lewis recognized the importance of educating future generations about courage and activism. In fact, he authored graphic novels like “March,” providing a compelling and accessible narrative of the movement. In doing so, he ensured that the lessons learned during that era are not forgotten and inspired future generations to action.

John Lewis Necessary Trouble

Pictured: John Lewis Mural in Gowanus, New York.

The Power of “Necessary Trouble”

Lewis’s concept of “necessary trouble” emphasizes the indispensable role of activism in driving meaningful change. In his advocacy for justice and peace, Lewis argued that nonviolent disruptions and confrontations were not only justified but essential for challenging and dismantling unjust systems.

He believed that individuals have a moral obligation to take action and do something, even in the face of adversity. In short, the idea of “necessary trouble” underscores the importance of standing up for what is right. This includes confronting systemic injustices and being willing to endure hardship for the sake of a more just society.

John Lewis’s life and legacy exemplify the transformative power of individuals who, by engaging in purposeful and necessary trouble, contribute to the broader movement for social justice, leaving an enduring impact on the collective conscience.

Civil Rights Leaders Marching

Atlanta, GA – John Lewis, (far right), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (third from right), his wife Coretta Scott King, Ralph David Abernathy (second left), lead march from Atlanta University to the Georgia state Capitol. (Hugh Stovall/AJC staff) 1966.

Peaceful Protest and Social Change

Lewis’s advocacy for peaceful protest stands as a cornerstone of his impactful contributions toward social change. Throughout the Civil Rights movement, Lewis was a staunch believer of and participant in the power of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. Both were and continue to be potent tools for challenging systemic oppression.

Lewis participated in historically significant events such as the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery marches, showcasing the transformative potential of peaceful demonstrations. Lewis was committed to the principles of nonviolence even in the face of brutal opposition.

In addition, the lasting impact of Lewis’s commitment to peaceful protest is evident in its influence on subsequent movements. John Lewis had a remarkable ability to see beyond immediate challenges. Rather, he envisioned a future where equality and justice prevailed for all.

Hero Mural Atlanta

Pictured: John Lewis “Hero” mural in Atlanta, Georgia.

Courageous Leadership and Advocacy

Lewis’s leadership and advocacy for marginalized communities exemplify an unwavering commitment to justice and equality that has left an enduring impact on American society.

His tireless efforts in championing voter rights were particularly significant. Lewis played a pivotal role in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark achievement in the fight against racial discrimination in voting.

In addition to his pivotal role in voters’ rights, Lewis was a vocal proponent of social justice initiatives aimed at addressing systemic inequities. His advocacy extended to the fight against police brutality, where he consistently spoke out against injustices faced by Black communities.

Furthermore, Lewis’s leadership was characterized by a belief in the interconnectedness of various social issues. He recognized the need for comprehensive solutions. For example, his efforts in raising awareness and promoting dialogue on issues like affordable healthcare, education, and economic empowerment showcased a holistic approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges marginalized communities confront.

By combining his legislative knowledge with grassroots activism, Lewis became a beacon for change. Not only did he leave a positive mark on the ongoing struggle for justice, he also left a metaphorical roadmap and powerful example for future activists to follow. Today, his legacy encourages continued advocacy for marginalized communities. In addition, Lewis’s life serves as a reminder that the fight for justice is multifaceted and requires sustained commitment on multiple fronts.

Peaceful Protest of People

Pictured: People peacefully protesting.

Embracing the Legacy of John Lewis

Embracing the enduring legacy of John Lewis means actively participating in initiatives that champion equality, justice, and social change. To honor his commitment to make “good trouble,” individuals can engage in activism toward a more just future.

Consider joining local Civil Rights organizations, participating in peaceful protests, and advocating for policy changes that address systemic injustices. Volunteering with community-based organizations focused on education, voting rights, or social justice initiatives is another impactful way to contribute.

You can also extend support by donating to nonprofits dedicated to Civil Rights causes, joining an organization like the NAACP, and amplifying marginalized voices through social media and community forums. Additionally, educating ourselves on the historical and contemporary issues facing marginalized communities is crucial for informed activism.

Resources such as books, podcasts, documentaries, and online courses can deepen understanding and inspire meaningful action. By actively participating in these initiatives and incorporating his principles into daily life, we can all contribute to the ongoing struggle for justice. As a result, we can ensure that the spirit of John Lewis’s “good trouble” quote remains a beacon for positive change.

John Lewis

Pictured: John Lewis (center).

The Power of ‘Good Trouble’ in Shaping a Just World

In conclusion, John Lewis’s enduring impact on Civil Rights and social justice continues to illuminate the path towards a more equitable and just society. His unwavering commitment to “good trouble” and peaceful activism serves as a timeless inspiration for individuals seeking positive change.

As we reflect on the John Lewis good trouble quote, it becomes clear that the fight for Civil Rights is an ongoing endeavor – one in which every individual has a role to play. By embodying the spirit of “good trouble,” we all can actively contribute to the pursuit of justice and equality.

Let us honor John Lewis’s memory by engaging in meaningful activism, fostering inclusivity, and advocating for a society where the principles of fairness and equity prevail. In doing so, we can ensure that his legacy remains not just a historical marker but a living force that propels us towards a future defined by compassion, understanding, and true equality.

To deepen your understanding and commitment to DEI, exploring resources and activities from Unexpected Virtual Tours and Training. Start your civic action to further the legacy of John Lewis by exploring our Black History Month DEI training, Black History Month quotes, and the Good Trouble virtual tour.

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