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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"[Halberstam] hits the high points of the civil rights struggle and makes them immediate.... While some of the young people's names are familiar (e.g., Marion Barry, John Lewis), most are not, but the portraits of them and the society they lived in and challenged is richly detailed.... A masterful achievement in reporting, research, and understanding." —Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author David Halberstam has been working on The Children for about 43 years. In it he returns to the first and perhaps most important story he has ever covered as a newspaper writer — the early days of the historical civil rights movement. The Children captures the compelling true stories of a group of students who risked their lives over a five-year span to improve their country.
In 1959 a group of students came together in a workshop to learn the appropriate manner of nonviolent protesting. A few were white, but the majority were black, and most were the first in their families to attend college. Most of the students were from the South and were all too familiar with the reality of racism, but some had come from the North, where discrimination was more subtle. Those who came from the North to "discover their blackness" experienced for the very first time the deep humiliation of racism and segregation.
Halberstam came to Nashville in 1955 and became a newspaper reporter for the Tennessean, for which he covered that group of students, who one day attempted to break the color barrier by sitting at a segregated lunch counter indowntownNashville. Following the sit-in, many in this group would go on to join the Freedom Riders and actively participate in other aspects of the civil rights movement. A few would rise to high levels of influence, advising Martin Luther King, earning leadership positions at the SCLC, NAACP, and SNCC, and even winning government office.
Included in this group, "the Children," are Diane Nash, James Bevel, John Lewis, Marion Barry, C. T. Vivian, Bernard Lafayette Jr., Gloria Johnson, and Rodney Powell, among others. Halberstam presents their actions in a personal context; he shares their dreams, assesses their values, and reveals the economic and class struggles they faced, their fears and the physical risks they took, and, of course, their triumphs.