Friday, February 19, 2010

In speech to students, John Lewis advocates "good trouble"

In a speech at a North Carolina college, civil rights pioneer John Lewis rekindled the spirit of the movement. From the Charlotte Observer:

John Lewis knew he was talking to students, so he came to Charlotte's Central Piedmont Community College on Thursday with a simple prod.

His generation of students, he told them, "got in the way and got in trouble - but good trouble."

Against their parents' wishes, they sat at "whites-only" lunch counters in Southern dime stores asking for service and refusing to leave until they got it. They rode buses into the Deep South to test a Supreme Court ban on segregated bus stations. They marched to vote.

Many were beaten, and some died for it.

Much good came from their "trouble-making" - segregated restrooms, hotels, theaters and restaurants were banned after the 1964 Civil Rights Act; literacy tests and poll taxes were outlawed by the Voting Rights Act a year later.

"When people are not treated right, you have an obligation to do something about it," said Lewis, the 12-term U.S. House member from Georgia and civil rights warrior who walked arm-in-arm with the movement's titans.

" ... So get in the way, get in trouble - but good trouble."

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