Moral Faith and the Legacy of John Lewis's Political Vision of “Good Trouble”

Author: Terrence L. Johnson

December 6, 2021

Writing for the Journal of Law and Religion, Senior Fellow Terrence L. Johnson examines how the late congressman John Lewis spent most of his political life engaging Black Power's commitment to economic and political freedom through a political vocabulary that aligned with his deeply held beliefs in nonviolence, human rights activism, and moral faith. The tension between the Black radical left and establishment Black politics dates back to Lewis's clash with elite Black leaders over the content of his prepared address for the 1963 March on Washington. Negotiating the political interests of the organizers of the March alongside the demands of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee foreshadowed the congressman's political vocation: a lifetime of civil rights advocacy through a politics of respectability and Black Power's political philosophy of freedom and economic transformation. Lewis's political legacy is complicated; and yet, it was fueled by an unabashed commitment to Black freedom struggles, human rights activism, and racial reconciliation.

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