Good Trouble

Marie Ford was the 13th of 14 children born to her parents in rural Georgia. She worked the farm until her mother took a job in a nearby town. She and her sister moved with their mother to the town. There she was influenced by her family minister to join the civil rights movement and practiced the concept of nonviolent resistance where change was needed.

Marie changed her name to Mimi and when she married, she became Mimi Jones. Mimi earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and began her career as a grant writer. But she never forgot her civil rights calling.

She is best remembered for an event that occurred the day before the U.S. Senate was to vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mimi and six other civil rights activists leaped into a whites-only motel pool in St. Augustine, Florida. The manager of the motel responded by pouring acid into the pool. Mimi and 40 other protestors were taken to jail. Included in the 40 protestors were 16 rabbis.

The photo seen here of the manager pouring acid into the pool was on the front page of the Washington Post and New York Times the day of the vote for the Civil Rights Act. Any senators who were wavering in their votes could not in good conscious vote no after seeing the photo.

Representative John Lewis is famous for his call to citizens to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble”. Mimi Jones certainly was a role model for someone who got in good trouble. She was arrested often. She was threatened often. Bombs were tossed into the windows of a building where she and others were planning to get into good trouble. Some of the good trouble she caused was teaching African-Americans to read so they could pass literacy tests and vote.

What separates good trouble from actions such as the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021? Good trouble is non-violent and focused on correction of societal wrongs. Good trouble focuses on inclusiveness of opportunity for everyone rather than preserving barriers to a good life. Good trouble is spurred by hope for the future rather than by fear of challenges to the status quo.

Just imagine where our society would be without good trouble? Just imagine how all of us can get into good trouble for things we believe in? Just imagine how simple acts of good trouble can become catalysts for positive change?

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Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” – John Lewis

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