Research Book News
Health Communications, Inc.
Titles appearing in Reference — Research Book News — August 2011
Autobiography of a freedom rider; my life as a foot soldier for civil rights.
Armstrong, Thomas M. and Natalie R. Bell.
Health Communications, Inc., ©2011 207 p. $14.95 E185
Civil Rights Movement veteran Armstrong presents this memoir of his involvement in the Freedom Rides in the early 1960's and history of the Civil Rights Movement. Prior to the movement, the American South was a place of intense hate, segregation, and inequality. In 1961, a diverse group of young, socially conscious intellectuals boarded Greyhound buses and trains bound for the deep South. These individuals, known as Freedom Riders, sparked the beginning of the non-violent Civil Rights Movement. The price paid by these soldiers against inequality was not dissimilar to that paid by veterans of foreign wars; many were wounded, killed, or left with severe mental-health issues. This important memoir, intended for anyone with an interest in the Civil Rights Movement and race studies, provides both an individual and collective perspective on this vital period of social change in American history. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Research Book News
VOYA - Deena Lipomi
In this memoir, Armstrong tells of his life as a black teen in the 1950s, when Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan were strong forces in Mississippi. He recalls a pivotal moment when he was denied service at a Dairy Queen window because of the color of his skin, which helped him decide to be a part of societal change. By 1961, Armstrong was a Freedom Rider, someone who refused to abide by the "Whites Only" signs and segregation on buses, someone who, despite being arrested and fearing for his life, refused to let the country carry on as if blacks were not worthy of the same rights as their white counterparts. This memoir is heavy on the names of Armstrong's friends and family, other activists, and politicians, which makes the beginning chapters somewhat difficult to wade through. While much of the information about segregation in the South is available in other books, Autobiography of a Freedom Fighter's strength is in the specific glimpses into and anecdotes about Armstrong's own life, like his family's home life and beliefs, his experiences helping blacks register to vote, and the post-traumatic stress he experienced because of the abuse he witnessed and faced. This book would be a nice compliment to They Called Themselves the K.K.K. by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Houghton Mifflin, 2010/VOYA October 2010). Reviewer: Deena Lipomi