John Lewis knew he was talking to students, so he came to Charlotte's Central Piedmont Community College on Thursday with a simple prod.
His generation of students, he told them, "got in the way and got in trouble — but good trouble."
Against their parents' wishes, they sat at "whites-only" lunch counters in Southern dime stores asking for service and refusing to leave until they got it. They rode buses into the Deep South to test a Supreme Court ban on segregated bus stations. They marched to vote.
Many were beaten, and some died for it.
Much good came from their "trouble-making" — segregated restrooms, hotels, theaters and restaurants were banned after the 1964 Civil Rights Act; literacy tests and poll taxes were outlawed by the Voting Rights Act a year later.
"When people are not treated right, you have an obligation to do something about it," said Lewis, the 12-term U.S. House member from Georgia and civil rights warrior who walked arm-in-arm with the movement's titans.
" ... So get in the way, get in trouble — but good trouble."
The program was put together by CPCC dean of libraries Gloria Kelley, a friend of Lewis and his wife, Lillian.
The school showed an excerpt from the 2007 documentary "Come Walk in My Shoes" that centers on Lewis' activist years, his friendship with leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy, and a congressional pilgrimage he led to the movement's battlegrounds.
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