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John Lewis' Legacy of Good Trouble


















Photo Credit: Robin Jonathan Deutsch on Unsplash



Nearly one year ago today, US Representative John Lewis, 80, died from complications of pancreatic cancer. Representing the state of Georgia, he served Congress over 30 years and was eulogized by former President Barack Obama from the pulpit of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same spot from which civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached.


Collaborating with King in the 1960s, Lewis helped organize the historic voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and sustained severe injuries in the violent clash with law enforcement that ensued. Undeterred, Lewis made a career of defending civil rights and championing the practice of what he deemed “good trouble.”


Simply put, “good trouble” involves speaking truth to power and systematically dismantling structures of systemic oppression, usually through acts of organized protest.


Last July, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests encompassing the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the pandemic, Education Without Limits introduced itself to the world via co-founder Rhi Alyxander’s evolving open letter, which calls for greater equity and teacher support in public education. In this sense, EWL strives to be a vehicle for the sort of “good trouble” that Lewis championed.


At its core, EWL helps bridge the divide between meeting the requirements of standards-based learning and bringing the benefits of social emotional learning, inquiry-based learning, and project-based learning to classrooms in some of the country’s most marginalized communities.


Are you interested in learning more about Representative John Lewis and his work as a civil rights leader? Take a look at this video developed by Facing History and Ourselves, a program featured in EWL’s curated collection ResourceHQ.


Want to learn more about EWL’s mission and how you can help? Sign up for our newsletters and connect via social media!


Forthcoming topics in our July newsletter include:

  • A brief profile of one of EWL’s newest staff members Kelli Lynn Karanovich.

  • A comprehensive review of the resource Facing History and Ourselves.

  • An exploration of how to teach controversial concepts with grace.

  • Deeper musings on “good trouble,” flexibility, and interdependence.

In the book Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change in the Future of America, John Lewis writes, “Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”


For us, the answer to this question is access to quality education, and our approach is to develop innovative, by-educator, for-educator programs that reflect our values of curiosity, empowerment, flexibility, and utility. We look forward to growing with you!


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