John Lewis’ tireless push for civil rights did not die with him on July 17, 2020. The longtime representative of Georgia’s 5th congressional district spent his lifetime fighting for the oppressed and forgotten. And he wrote the playbook for the next generation to get into what he called “good trouble, necessary trouble.”
On September 27, CNN Films premieres “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a documentary chronicling the late congressman’s 60-plus years of social activism. In light of the film’s debut, Impact Your World has gathered some ways you can stir up some “good trouble” of your own through charities and causes John Lewis supported.
It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t start by suggesting you exercise your right to vote. The former congressman made voting rights a crucial part of his advocacy throughout his life. He believed the right to vote was one of American’s most precious and sacred blessings. There is no better way to honor his life and legacy by hitting the polls on November 3.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Lewis first won election to Congress in 1986. One of his earliest bills called for the establishment of a national museum to display the history of Black America. The legislation repeatedly stalled. So, Lewis resubmitted the bill for discussion every year for 15 consecutive years before Congress passed it in 2003. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush, establishing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum opened in 2016.
National Park Conservation Association
The National Park Service manages several locations where significant events occurred during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Congressman Lewis received two of the National Park Conservation Association’s most prestigious awards: the NPCA Honor Award (1996), which recognizes outstanding efforts by a citizen activist, politician, or community on behalf of the National Park System, and the William Penn Mott Park Leadership Award (2001), which recognizes the efforts of legislators and other public officials who advocate for the parks. A donation to the NPCA safeguards the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical and cultural treasures of the world’s largest and most diverse park system.
Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, Inc.
On March 7, 1965, also known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams marched side by side, leading over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. In 1971, Williams founded Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, which provides hot meals, haircuts, clothing, and other services for the needy in Atlanta, which happens to be the congressman’s home district. Lewis would frequently help distribute meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop
The Washington, DC, non-profit Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop helps current and formerly incarcerated people develop literacy skills through book clubs and writing workshops. The non-profit also offers workforce development and violence prevention programs. Lewis visited members of the program in a DC jail in 2016. The non-profit created the Congressman John Lewis Fellowship, which pays former inmates to promote nonviolence and racial equity through storytelling and poetry.