• Live at the National Constitution Center Podcast

Rep. John Lewis on MLK and “Good Trouble”

January 21, 2020

Rep. John Lewis’ childhood aspiration was to be a preacher, and he practiced sermons in front of the chickens on his family farm in rural Alabama. Little did he know that he would soon lead the “freedom rides” fighting segregation in the south, give a keynote address at the March on Washington at age 23, and become a 17-term congressman. Rep. Lewis shares inspiring stories from that journey in this 2013 address delivered on Constitution Day here at the National Constitution Center, which we’re sharing in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rep. Lewis discussed his graphic novel March: Book One which spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and the battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins. He was joined by his co-author Andrew Aydin and NCC President Jeffrey Rosen.



The Honorable John Lewis is the U.S. Representative for GA-5, serving in his 17th term in the House, having served since 1987, and is the senior member of the Georgia congressional delegation. is an American politician and civil rights leader. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., he joined the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963's March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as "Bloody Sunday." He was elected to Congress in 1986 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal in 2016.

​​​​​​Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the U.S. Constitution. Rosen is also professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.

Additional Resources

This episode was engineered by Greg Scheckler and produced by Jackie McDermott and Tanaya Tauber.

Stay Connected and Learn More
Questions or comments about the show? Email us at [email protected]

Continue today’s conversation on Facebook and Twitter using @ConstitutionCtr.

Sign up to receive Constitution Weekly, our email roundup of constitutional news and debate, at bit.ly/constitutionweekly.

Please subscribe to Live at America’s Town Hall and our companion podcast We the People on Apple PodcastsStitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

More from the National Constitution Center

Carry the Constitution in Your Pocket! Download the App

The Interactive Constitution is available as a free app on your mobile device.

Visit the National Constitution Center

Find out about upcoming programs, exhibits, and educational initiatives on the National Constitution Center’s website.

Support the Interactive Constitution

The National Constitution is a private nonprofit. Please support our educational mission of increasing awareness and understanding of the U.S. Constitution.