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Democrats honor John Lewis with ‘Good Trouble’ masks, inspiring copycats

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee pays her respects as  Rep. John Lewis lies in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Monday.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee pays her respects as Rep. John Lewis lies in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Monday. (Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images/POOL)

“Good Trouble” covered the faces of several lawmakers in Washington this week.

Rep. John Lewis’ casket was draped in red, white and blue. Purple lapel ribbons honored his legacy. But as colleagues remembered him, the most eye-catching statement was written on their masks.

It was Lewis’ favorite phrase for civil disobedience and fighting systems of injustice, and it has gained even more traction since his death in mid-July. At a memorial in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, it helped break up the blankness of face coverings, a key but emotion-hiding part of mourning during a pandemic.

Rep. Alma Adams was the force behind the masks, first wearing one last week. “Wore a new mask to votes tonight,” she tweeted. “It’s up to us to make good trouble now.” 

The movement quickly caught on. The Democrat from North Carolina had ordered some extras, but soon got more requests from her colleagues on the Hill. The demand has been tough to keep up with.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said communications director Sam Spenser.

Pyramid Printing, a commercial print shop in Adams’ district, produced the masks, helping Congressional Black Caucus members like Colin Allred, Sheila Jackson Lee, Karen Bass and others pay their respects while following the advice of health experts to mask up in public places.

The message was iconic, and so was the font choice. “What serif font would be more appropriate than Georgia?” Spenser said, in a nod to the Atlanta-area district that Lewis represented in Congress for more than three decades.

As the pandemic continues, the “Good Trouble” masks aren’t going away. The movement on the Hill has already inspired copycats.

“Go get in Good Trouble! – Select from a variety of colors,” a group called The Christian Left tweeted Monday, linking to their online storefront.

The tweet went up soon after the memorial service streamed live from the Capitol. “You may have seen several people wearing this mask while attending the John Lewis service at the Capitol Rotunda,” it read.

While the group seemed to imply it was somehow involved in the lawmakers’ show of solidarity, that was not the case. 

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Photos of the week ending December 8, 2023