John Lewis: Get In The Way
The first major documentary biography of civil rights hero, congressional leader and champion for human rights, whose unwavering fight for justice spanned over fifty years.
Directed by Kathleen Dowdey
Produced by Kathleen Dowdey
Editor: Lillian E. Benson, A.C.E.
Director of Photography: Charles A.Schner
Music: Camara Kambon
Executive Producer: Charles Floyd Johnson
Consulting Producer: Donna Brown Guillaume
Story Consultant: Jed Dannenbaum
Produced by Early Light Productions
[Note: Community screenings of JOHN LEWIS: GET IN THE WAY can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"The sheer historical weight of his experiences...makes for gripping viewing...[H]ighly recommended ." Educational Media Reviews Online
Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, a civil rights hero, congressional leader, and human rights champion whose unwavering fight for justice spanned the past 57 years. The son of sharecroppers, Lewis grew up in the segregated South and rose from Alabama's Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill. His humble origins have forever linked him to those whose voices often go unheard.
Through never-before-seen interviews shot over 20 years, Lewis tells the gripping tale of his role in the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the youngest speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington and he led the Bloody Sunday march in Selma in 1965 where Alabama state troopers attacked peaceful protesters with billy clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas. This march led to President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, which prohibited racial discrimination at the polls.
Originally an activist pushing from the outside, Lewis became the conscience of congress who made noise on the inside pressing for justice, equality, and human rights. Despite setbacks—and there were many—John Lewis' eyes remained steadfastly on the prize.
Grade Level: 7 - 12, Colleges, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2017
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-50-X
"When I tell my daughter about the late John Lewis, I say that he was a loving man, a person of intense and infectious kindness. Congressman Lewis was equally unafraid and unselfish, and he inspired those qualities in others. When I tell my daughter about John Lewis, I will encourage her to walk in his path and 'make good trouble.' The stories I tell my daughter are the ones featured prominently in John Lewis: Get In the Way, a film honoring the legacy of the late congressman. This film should be required viewing for everyone, and I recommend it to anyone who, like Lewis, believes that the fate of the nation depends on ordinary citizens being extraordinary in their deeds and ideas."
Ray Block Jr., Associate Professor of Political Science, African American Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
"'The vote,' John Lewis reminds us in Get in the Way, 'is the most powerful non-violent tool that we have in a democracy.' His fearless lifelong effort to protect that tool is at the heart of this moving look at a principled leader. Congressman Lewis is gone when we most need him, but Kathleen Dowdey's inspiring film invites Americans of all ages to break bread with one of this country's true redeemers. Don't pass up this invitation!"
Peter H. Wood, Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University, Author, Black Majority
"Combining voice, image and time, John Lewis: Get in the Way offers a compelling glimpse of what this country can be. Imbued with a remarkable sense of purpose, direction, and determination, the film, largely narrated in Lewis's deeply resonant voice, reveals the pathway to realizing this nation's unmet ideals as a 'community at peace with itself.' His story unfolds from his insistent youth to his persistent career, each stage a revelation of the power of his unflinching love for humanity. A must see for all ages."
David J. Harris, Managing Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School
"This film beautifully captures a life of meaning and purpose with love for all mankind. John Lewis inspired this nation through his profound pursuit of social justice. He never wavered when facing injustice and by doing so moved a nation toward righteousness."
Derek Hyra, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy, American University, Author, The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville
"Inspiring...The civil rights struggle that has occupied most of Lewis's 77 years is facing a tidal wave of new challenges...The values he embodies are more important than ever."
Frazier Moore, Associated Press
"Trump, as you may recall, tweeted that Lewis was 'all talk, talk, talk - no action or results'...The documentary will show just how wrong Trump was in his tweet. Lewis has been all action, action, action."
Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe
"The film takes viewers on a journey from Lewis's roots as the son of sharecroppers to his work to end segregation and gain African-American voting rights, to his work as a Washington, D.C. insider to combat discrimination, poverty, poor education, police brutality, inaccessible health care, and voter limitations...But it also gives us a glimpse to his warm, mischievous side."
Susan Karlin, Fast Company
"Through a sweeping and at times non-linear style, Get In the Way gives the audience a sense of Lewis not so much as a biographical subject, but as Representative John Larson put it, an 'experience seared into our collective memory.'"
Argun Ulgen, Pop Matters
"A powerful and focused documentary...Lewis exemplifies the power of nonviolence and the inspiring role of students and young adults in social struggles - an important story to share in classrooms, congregations and community settings. Get In the Way is a compelling exploration of the personal witness of John Lewis and the importance of personal integrity, and the role of sacrifice and suffering in principled nonviolent direct action movements for change."
Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, Author, Born on Third Base
"We were impressed with the community engagement and discussion that came out of Get in the Way. Patrons let us know how important it is to tell stories from leading voices in history."
Zoe Del Mar, Communications Manager, Cambridge Public Library
"Highly Recommended...The sheer historical weight of his experiences, combined with his highly polished way of recounting them, makes for gripping viewing...This program is highly recommended for teaching about the Civil Rights era."
Timothy Hackman, University of Maryland, Educational Media Reviews Online
|DVDs include public performance rights.
Includes scene selection, closed captions, and both stereo and 5.1 surround sound
Host a community screening
Excellent Educational Guide with four lesson plans, and standards alignment
Extensive Discussion Guide with history of the civil rights movement, questions and activities
Awards and Festivals
Video Librarian's Best Documentaries of the Year 2020 List
Best Documentary, International Family Film Festival
Woodstock Film Festival
Newark Black Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
International Black Film Festival, Nashville
Citizenship and Civics
Race and Racism
Connects the massive 1963 Chicago Public Schools boycott to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism.
The Long Walk To Freedom
A story of 12 ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things in the Civil Rights movement.
Love & Solidarity
An exploration of nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Rev. James Lawson.
Power to Heal
The untold story of how the twin struggles for racial justice and healthcare intersected: creating Medicare and desegregating thousands of hospitals at the same time.
The Third Harmony
Tells the story of nonviolence, the greatest overlooked resource in human experience.
Home of the Brave
Examines the case of Viola Liuzzo, the only white woman murdered in the civil rights movement.
... more Reviews
"[An] enthusiastic tribute...Offers a full portrayal of Lewis' unwavering dedication to the ideals he espoused from the very beginning of his public life and his collaboration with Dr. King...This inspiring documentary on one of the country's most significant civil rights pioneers is highly recommended."
Frank Swietek, Video Librarian
"This brisk film shows so much of John Lewis's remarkable life: his moral clarity, physical courage, and unrelenting optimism. Americans need to know this sharecropper's son, freedom rider, US Congressman - and more. From this heroic story, we'll all learn a lot more about how American history is made - sometimes by people like us."
David Meyer, Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Planning, Policy, and Design, University of California-Irvine, Author, The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America
"The history of the right to vote in the United States has been a history of constant struggle. John Lewis was the essence of that struggle. This documentary wonderfully captures his remarkable life and the many sacrifices he made for our country. It should be required viewing in classrooms all across the country."
Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, Professor of Law, Adjunct Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and Political Science, Indiana University-Bloomington
"The late John Lewis was at the moral center of the 20th century's Civil Rights Movement. His life showed us that through nonviolent political commitment we can work together to remake our world. In this timely film, Lewis tells his story of how he came to be a soldier for justice and why we must never give up and never give in to the forces working against a better world."
Dr. Lorraine C. Minnite, Associate Professor, Public Policy and Administration, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, Author, The Myth of Voter Fraud