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By LAWRENCE SPECKER, Al.com

TROY, Ala. (AP) — To watch “John Lewis: Good Trouble” is to take a ride on a time machine, a trip exploring the remarkable life of an Alabama sharecropper’s son who became an icon of the civil rights movement and preserved his ideals through a career in Congress.

But this brand-new documentary from Magnolia Pictures and director Dawn Porter isn’t the kind of time machine that takes you to the beginning of the story and drops you off, then lets you work your way back up to the present.

This one shuttles you back and forth through time, letting some themes emerge, letting it sink in that the story of Lewis’ life is as much about his country as it is about him, letting it show that progress is never a done deal.

Back to 1965, to a confrontation between nonviolent demonstrators marching for the right to vote and Alabama state troopers forming an angry “sea of blue” that surges over them. Forward to 2018, to midterm elections plagued by voter suppression efforts. All the way back to a childhood on a farm in Troy, Ala., to a boy preaching to the chickens. Forward to that child, now 17, sending a letter off to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and getting a reply that brings him into King’s orbit. Forward a little more to college days in Nashville, to the start of the sit-ins that began to show the power of nonviolent protest.

Forward to 2018 again, to the sense of chicanery and injustice around Stacey Abrams’ defeat in her run for governor of Georgia, balanced by Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Back to 1961, riding into Rock Hill, S.C., with the freedom riders and being beaten by Klan members. That was when he lost his fear, Lewis says. “When you lose your sense of fear, you’re free,” he says.

Forward to 2013, to a Supreme Court ruling in a case originating in Alabama, a ruling that cuts away a major provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “They’re saying in effect that history cannot repeat itself,” comments Lewis. “I say, come walk a mile in my shoes.”

Forward to 2016, where the ruling’s impacts are seen in changes that systematically make it harder for many to vote. Back to 1963, where John Lewis, walking in his shoes, speaks at the March on Washington -- and then, a couple of weeks after that triumph, surveys the horrible scene of the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing.

On and on, back and forth, past and present. A project such as “John Lewis: Good Trouble” easily can fall into the trap of simply admiring a subject who was already widely agreed to be admirable. Porter avoids that: Shuttling back and forth through time, the director weaves a picture of civil rights, voter rights, as an ongoing fight, not something won and secured by the blood, sweat and tears of the past. Porter effectively gets it across that admiring John Lewis is pointless if no one follows his call.

Lewis is a Democrat, and one liberal enough to sometimes to be a thorn in the side even of his Democrat colleagues. Naturally those most inspired by him are on the same side of the aisle, and the documentary’s guest list is a Who’s Who of people whose presence is guaranteed to irritate some: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Their praises illustrate Lewis’ power to inspire. But not as much as the comments from his brothers and sisters and longtime friends, and certainly not as much as the comments of Lewis himself.

He’s seen progress in his lifetime, he says, but “As a nation and as a people we’re not quite there yet. We have miles to go.”

“You only pass this way once,” he says. “You have to give it all you have.”

It’s a lot easier to believe, coming from someone who’s done it.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tucker Carlson: Normal Americans Dont Have The Same Privilege As John Lewis Friends

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said during a segment of Monday night’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that most Americans wouldn’t have been able to “say goodbye to those they love at large funerals” like the one for the late Democratic Rep. John Lewis that took place last week.

The late Civil Rights icon was memorialized in a series of events last week that culminated in a crowded funeral where former President Barack Obama used a portion of his eulogy to slam the Senate filibuster as a “Jim Crow relic.”

Carlson argued that strict social distancing rules like the ones that exist in Washington D.C. are “a lot to ask of a population,” but only work if they apply “to everyone, because science doesn’t work if it only applies to the people without power and not to the people who do have power.”

“But that’s exactly what’s happening,” he said.

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“Those rules do not apply, those quarantine rules, to the hundreds of Democrats who huddled together at Congressman John Lewis’ funeral slash political rally last week,” said the Fox News host. “Remember that one? That the networks aired for hours, where Barack Obama shouted about Senate procedure at a funeral?”

“The people who went to that are exempt because somehow shouting left-wing slogans in church is “official government business,” unlike having a church service in Michigan, for example, or conducting a neighborhood cookout in Washington,” he continued.

Carlson pointed out that ordinary Americans “are still subject to CDC guidelines.” (RELATED: ‘Divisive And Deeply Dishonest Campaign Speech’: Tucker Carlson Blasts Obama For Politicizing John Lewis Funeral)

“They are not in Congress,” he said. “And those guidelines recommend limiting funerals to immediate family members. So they don’t get to say goodbye to those they love at large funerals. They don’t have the same privilege as John Lewis’ friends. But our leaders don’t care. They don’t want you to complain. You shouldn’t be allowed to complain.”

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