‘The Umbrella Academy’: How John Lewis Inspired Emmy Raver-Lampman in Season 2

The Umbrella Academy sent its characters back to the 1960s. Thus, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) travels back to the Civil Rights Movement. It is a precarious time for her, with or without super powers. However, Raver-Lampman welcomed the incorporation of such historical elements. She also drew inspiration from the late John Lewis and other Civil Rights leaders.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains mild spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 2.]

Yusuf Gatewood and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy Season 2
Yusuf Gatewood and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy Season 2 | Netflix

Raver-Lampman was on a Television Critics Association panel for The Umbrella Academy Season 2 on Aug. 4. She spoke about Lewis, as well as the other real-life Civil Rights leaders she studied for the season. Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

John Lewis was still alive when Emmy Raver-Lampman filmed ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2

Lewis passed away on July 17 at the age of 80. He was still serving in Congress when Raver-Lampman was studying the era for The Umbrella Academy.

John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis | Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images

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“I did extensive research,” Raver Lampman. “I was reading every kind of book and watching every documentary. Congressman Lewis, his life’s work was dedicated to that movement and he was still alive while we were shooting this. He was a living, breathing, inspiration for my work.”

Aside from John Lewis, Emmy Raver-Lampman studied other living Civil Rights leaders

As season 2 begins, Allison considers using her powers against racist cops who barge into her home and arrest her husband (Yusuf Gatewood). Many real women lived under those circumstances in the ’60s.

Emly Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy
Emily Raver-Lampman | Netflix

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“Also, Ruby Bridges, who was the first black child to integrate in an all-white school,” Raver-Lampman said. “She just turned 65. So, I was also looking at these people that are still alive and still dedicating their lives’ work to furthering the message of that movement and ending systemic racism, and injustice. There are obviously ones that we are taught. Then, there are also so many unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement, and especially women.”

Emmy Raver-Lampman did homework for ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2

In addition to the modern day legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, Raver-Lampman read books to learn more, too.

“I read this book called Sisters in the Struggle, which is a book that goes into depth and talks about all of the women and the work that they did,” Raver-Lampman said. “There was so much to pull from. I think that was a huge part of the season for me and something that I really, really enjoyed, was really just kind of furthering my education.”

Doing her research for The Umbrella Academy also made Raver-Lampman realize how general education is lacking.

Emily Raver-Lampman and Yusuf Gatewood
Emily Raver-Lampman and Yusuf Gatewood | Netflix

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“We are taught in school about the Civil Rights [Movement], but we’re not taught enough and we’re not taught about the harsh realities of the black experience,” Raver-Lampman said. “I really did want to educate myself. I really enjoyed furthering my knowledge of that time and the people that don’t get credit for the work that they did and how much of their lives they gave to that fight.”

Emmy Raver-Lampman hopes she’d make the late John Lewis proud

Raver-Lampman believes Civil Rights Movement is relevant to the climate of 2020. Protests over police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter continue. Raver-Lampman hopes bringing up the Civil Rights Movement motivates Umbrella Academy fans.

There is still so much work to be done. I think having Allison be a part of the Civil Rights movement and watching violence play out in front of her eyes, there’s not a lot of difference to that violence and the violence that we are watching on our television screens today. We’re dealing with systemic racism in our country, and injustice and hate on such a deeply rooted level. Yes, there have been strides in the ending of hate and the ending of systemic racism, but it’s nowhere near done.

Emmy Raver-Lampman, The Umbrella Academy Television Critics Association panel, 8/4/2020