PBS to Broadcast Rep. John Lewis Documentary

PBS and Georgia Public Broadcasting will air a new documentary about the life of Representative John Lewis, who has recently been the subject of ire from President-elect Donald Trump. The film, “John Lewis – Get In the Way,” will premiere Fri., Feb. 10, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. ET (check your local listings).

This first documentary biography of Lewis, whose unwavering fight for justice spans the past 50 years, is part of Black History Month programming on PBS and was directed by Kathleen Dowdey. The son of sharecroppers, Lewis grew up in rural isolation, seemingly destined for a bleak future in the Jim Crow South. But Lewis took a different path, rising from Alabama’s Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, his humble origins forever linking him to those whose voices often go unheard.

The documentary spans more than half a century, tracing Lewis’ journey of courage, confrontation and hard-won triumphs. At the age of 15, his life changed forever when he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. It was 1955, during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Lewis listened with rapt attention as the young preacher called for nonviolent resistance to the harsh injustice of segregation. Lewis embraced Dr. King’s spiritual call with a fervor that would transform the course of his life.

As a student activist in the vanguard of the civil rights movement, Lewis was arrested and jailed for the first time during the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in 1960. During the 1961 Freedom Rides, he was repeatedly assaulted by angry mobs.

John Lewis in the 1960s during his days as a Civil Rights activist

He was the youngest speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington, and in March 1965, Lewis led the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, where state troopers attacked peaceful protesters with billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. Their horrific actions were broadcast on news reports into living rooms across America; eight months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

In the film, Lewis relates the gripping tale of his role in these history-making events. Other key interviewees include civil rights activists Andrew Young, C.T. Vivian, Juanita Abernathy and Bernard Lafayette, as well as Lewis’ congressional colleagues Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Emanuel Cleaver and Amory Houghton.

“John Lewis – Get In the Way” will be available on DVD from PBS Distribution and can be purchased at ShopPBS.org. The film will also be available for online streaming beginning Feb. 11 via the PBS apps for iOS and Android devices and station-branded digital platforms including Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.



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