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University of California
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive

Interview with John Lewis and Tom Houck

Maureen Orth interviews John Lewis and Tom Houck for TVTV at the 1972 Republican National Convention

TVTV covered the 1972 Republican National Convention as guerrilla television makers, embedding themselves with new, portable Sony Portapaks and capturing the political scene with a level of immediacy the mainstream networks could never achieve. A perfect example of this is the interview conducted by Maureen Orth with John Lewis (then the executive director of the Voter Education Project) and Tom Houck, a civil rights activist (and associate director of the Youth Citizenship Fund) who, along with Lewis, had participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. This interview is part of the outtakes from Four More Years (1972), the sixty-minute documentary TVTV made on the Republican National Convention.

Orth caught Lewis and Houck at the end of an exhausting day when both had been working with their respective voter registration initiatives. Asked for his opinion of the well-oiled machinery of Young Republicans, Nixonettes, and young voters on display at the convention, Lewis delivers an affirmation that the values of peace, justice, and morality must transcend party affiliation or even lionized figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Houck had a less reserved opinion of the Young Republicans, likening them to Germans acquiescing to the rise of the Nazi Reich. Both activists expressed dismay at the sight of young people’s breathless enthusiasm for the increasingly brutal war in Vietnam and economic policies favoring the rich at the expense of the poor.

John Lewis: “There comes a time in the life of a country and the life of a people when you stand for something, and you don’t stand for it because of a party or a particular man but because it’s RIGHT.

And the whole question of peace and justice and morality and just sharing with the rest of this people in the country–I think it’s important irregardless of party.”