Webster students are taking part in the “Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me to Vote” multimedia competition. The contest encourages students to remember Lewis’ legacy.
“You want to honor John (Lewis), let’s honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for,” former President Barack Obama stated about the Voting Rights Act at John Lewis’ funeral on July 30.
As Obama uttered these words, Dance the Vote co-founder and distinguished Webster alumni Joan Lipkin was struck with inspiration to do just that. She decided to create a contest that would help encourage college students to vote and teach them about the legacy of Representative John Lewis, who was a major civil rights leader in the United States.
“This is a man who has given his entire life to public service. He was jailed at least 40 times. He was beaten numerous times. He was one of the youngest civil rights leaders that we’ve ever had. He was a student civil rights leader,” Lipkin said. “I bet a lot of students today don’t know who he is. I thought this [contest] would be a way not only to keep his legacy alive, but also to inspire them so that they could possibly see themselves in him.”
This contest, called “Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me to Vote” is a multimedia competition open to all students at Webster or any other university in the country. Winners receive cash prizes from $250 to $500. Dance the Vote, an organization dedicated to increasing student voting, teamed up with Webster University to make the contest happen.
Since this is a multimedia contest, students can submit almost anything that expresses their feelings on voting and John Lewis’ legacy.
“My idea is that people should be able to offer and create something in whatever means feels right for them. You don’t have to be a film major or an experienced videographer to participate in this project. You can make a graphic, make a photograph, record some spoken word, offer a testimony, make a video if you want, write a song,” Lipkin said. “It should include why you’re going to vote, and maybe why you feel they need to vote. We want your voice.”
Travis Haughton, a senior film and video production major at Webster, will be participating in the contest by making a video submission. He will be directing a film on campus using John Lewis’ voiceovers and recreating famous historical images of Black people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
“You see the world we live in and what we’re going through right now with the person who is in charge,” Haughton said. “People like my ancestors fought for us to vote, so if we don’t vote, especially Black people, that’s like letting our ancestors down. Vote like your life depends on it.”
Webster junior Ivana Solomon was inspired by John Lewis’ legacy and decided to create a video for the contest.
“As a film director, I love producing and directing work that matters and impacts people in a positive way,” Solomon said. “This video gave me the chance to do so.”
Her video includes personal testimonies about John Lewis and creating change, along with video clips of John Lewis’ speeches throughout the years.
Encouraging students to make change by voting is another huge part of the contest.
“Coronavirus, affordable health care, systemic racism, the economy and climate change– all of these things are influenced by who’s in office. So, if you want certain kinds of changes, you have to elect the representation that will reflect your values and your needs,” Lipkin said. “It’s so important that students vote, that they vote with their conscience and that they vote for the kind of world that they want to see.”
The deadline for Make Good Trouble has been extended to Oct. 19. Students should post their submissions on Instagram, tagging @WebsterU, @DancetheVoteSTL, @WebsterVotes and #MakeGoodTroubleContest in the caption. The submissions should be no longer than 60 seconds in length. The winners will be announced Oct. 27. For more information on the contest, visit www.dancethevotestl.org.