Rep. John Lewis gets his closeup in new PBS documentary

Rep. John Lewis gets his closeup in new PBS documentary

Overview

By Charles Barton,

 

Georgia congressman John Lewis, who made headlines Friday for questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s standing as incoming president, will be the subject of a just-announced new documentary scheduled to air on PBS in February.

As part of the network’s programming for Black History Month, the documentary will look at Lewis’ 50-year history of civil-rights activism. “Get in the Way” will air Feb. 10 and is directed by Kathleen Dowdey, who in 2014 led a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to finance the film.

Representatives from PBS confirmed that the documentary’s premiere date had been set before the recent controversy surrounding Lewis’ recent feud with Trump.

“I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said, adding that he would boycott Trump’s inauguration. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.”

Trump fired back with a series of angry tweets, including one that read, “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk —  no action or results. Sad!”

As of Tuesday morning, more than 50 other Democratic members of Congress had joined Lewis in his boycott of Friday’s inauguration. And his spat with Trump has stoked sales of Lewis’ books, which have skyrocketed since the weekend.

“Through the years we’ve shared the stories of many of the movement’s greatest heroes with Georgia ties, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young,” Georgia Public Broadcasting President and Chief Executive Teya Ryan said in a statement announcing the premiere of the documentary. “We are thrilled to bring a film that so eloquently captures the legacy of John Lewis to a national audience through PBS.”

Inspired to join the civil-rights movement at just 15, after hearing a speech by King, Lewis participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides. He was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and in 1965 led the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Ala., which was dramatized in the 2014 film “Selma.”

In 1986, Lewis was elected to Congress to represent Georgia’s 5th District, where he has served since. In 2011 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.