Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement

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John Lewis's leadership of the Nashville Movement - a student-led effort to desegregate the city of Nashville using sit-in techniques based on the teachings of Gandhi - established him as one of the movement's defining figures and set the tone for the major civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, from the Freedom Rides of 1961, during which Lewis was repeatedly brutally beaten and imprisoned; to the 1963 March on Washington, where his fiery speech thrust him into the national spotlight; to his selection as the ...
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Overview

John Lewis's leadership of the Nashville Movement - a student-led effort to desegregate the city of Nashville using sit-in techniques based on the teachings of Gandhi - established him as one of the movement's defining figures and set the tone for the major civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, from the Freedom Rides of 1961, during which Lewis was repeatedly brutally beaten and imprisoned; to the 1963 March on Washington, where his fiery speech thrust him into the national spotlight; to his selection as the national chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), which he helped shape and guide; to the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" attack at Selma, where Lewis suffered a fractured skull during a tear gas attack by Alabama state troopers. Lewis, as a participant in the movement, was to be, and remains, utterly true to his boyhood hero, Martin Luther King Jr., as a believer in the philosophy and discipline of nonviolent social action. In 1966, Lewis was ousted as SNCC chairman by Stokely Carmichael, who represented the emerging militant "Black Power" direction of the movement. Two years later, Lewis joined Robert Kennedy in his 1968 campaign for the presidency. He was with Kennedy moments before he was assassinated. Lewis, committed to the principles of nonviolence, spent the next decade organizing and registering four million voters in the South. in 1986, he sought a United States congressional seat in a campaign against his old friend, comrade, and former SNCC colleague Julian Bond. Lewis won the seat in a great upset and serves in Congress to this day.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis, an Alabama sharecropper's son, went to Nashville to attend a Baptist college where, at the end of the 1950s, his life and the new civil rights movement became inexorably entwined. First came the lunch counter sit-ins; then the Freedom Rides; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Lewis's election to its chairmanship; the voter registration drives; the 1963 march on Washington; the Birmingham church bombings; the murders during the Freedom Summer; the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1964; and the march on Montgomery. Lewis was an active, leading member during all of it. Much of his account, written with freelancer D'Orso, covers the same territory as David Halberstam's "The Children." Halberstam himself appears here briefly as a young reporter but Lewis imbues it with his own observations as a participant. He is at times so self-effacing in this memoir that he underplays his role in the events he helped create. But he has a sharp eye, and his account of Selma and the march that followed is vivid and personal he describes the rivalries within the movement as well as the enemies outside. After being forced out of SNCC because of internal politics, Lewis served in President Carter's domestic peace corps, dabbled in local Georgia politics, then in 1986 defeated his old friend Julian Bond in a race for Congress, where he still serves. Lewis notes that people often take his quietness for meekness. His book, a uniquely well-told testimony by an eyewitness, makes clear that such an impression is entirely inaccurate.
Library Journal
The memoirs of Lewis, an African American congressman from Georgia, emphasize his participation in the stirring days of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, when the author served as national chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and held leadership positions in other Civil Rights organizations. The most valuable portions of his memoirs examine his involvement in the dramatic sit-ins in Nashville in 1960. Many of the local college students who organized these sit-ins became, like Lewis, important leaders in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the remainder of the decade. Lewis and other youthful veterans of the Nashville protests were frequent and very visible participants in demonstrations that made them targets of physical violence (e.g., the Freedom Rides of 1961). Yet Lewis, despite all he's seen, remains a supporter of nonviolence as an effective and moral approach to change. Complementing David Halberstam's "The Children" (LJ 2/15/98), this book is recommended for the Civil Rights collections of all public and academic libraries.
— Thomas H. Ferrell, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Kirkus Reviews
Georgia congressman Lewis (with journalist D'Orso's help) crafts a passionate, principled, and absorbing first-person account of the civil-rights movementþdramatic, well-paced history fired by moral purpose and backed by the authority of hard time in the trenches. Lewis' childhood was the quintessence of post-Reconstruction southern black life. This son of Alabama sharecroppers grew up in a rural shotgun shack, picked cotton, matriculated in a tumbledown one-room schoolhouse, and faced Jim Crow segregation on every trip to town. His adulthood is the quintessence of the struggle to break that oppression. Lewis' itinerary during the civil- rights movement reads like a highlight of its most significant moments. You name it, he was there: launching the nonviolent student protest movement at the Nashville sit-ins, Freedom Riding through the Deep South, delivering the March on Washington's most controversial speech, serving time in Mississippi's infamously brutal Parchman prison, organizing the voter registration drive that brought Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney to Mississippi, marching in Birmingham in 1963 and Selma in 1965. Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and his analysis of rivalries between SNCC and the more mainstream, bourgeois Southern Christian Leadership Conference (headed by Martin Luther King) and his candid assessment of notable players (King, Stokely Carmichael, Julian Bond) serve as reminders of the movement's complexity. Gut-wrenching firsthand descriptions revisit the appalling brutality endured by demonstrators (Lewis suffered a fractured skull leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday). Hememorializes not only the drama, but the patience and steely courage of "the days and days of uneventful protest" that laid the groundwork for big developmentsþand that risk being overlooked now. Lewis's faith in Gandhian nonviolent resistance is unshakable, as is his devotion to King and to the thousands of working-class blacks who risked their lives confronting southern tyranny. A classic, invaluable blockbuster history of the civil-rights movement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684810652
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/21/1998
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.47 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2001

    I have come a long way, too long to turn back now...

    So many people today don't realize what the real war of the civil rights meant to those fighting it. Equality, integration, freedom and independance are the things that are remembered. But togetherness and the end of racism, fighting with dignity and not with the kind of violence that kills so many people today were then so abundantly preached. Why is it okay for people to run around in gangs and spread the violent nature that they choose to live their lives with and then let a tear fall on the eve of King's death? Is it irony? Or is it a way of spitting on his grave? How can a people cry about all the suppression they have had to overcome, yet now are living through welfare and letting their children raise themselves? Yes, it is true that there are those who can't seem to rise above the poverty that infests our countries today. But there are those who still refuse to rise above. There are those still who don't see the need to fight so that thier children may have a better chance in the world. There are few left who still HAVE A DREAM and are willing to keep that dream alive. Crystal Crawford/ATX

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2000

    Outstanding book!

    A 'must read' for anyone concerned with human rights. Inspirational, well written and educational. John Lewis does an outstanding job sharing his experiences and those of others who stood up for what they believed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Lewis Sheds Light On Civil Rights

    If interested in the Civil Rights Movement and all the exeperiences Afro-Americans went through in their struggle for equality, this is the one. Lewis does a remarkable job of capturing the Movement.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2011

    excellent

    Lewis was at most of the turning points in the golden age of the civil rights movement. His memoir is a short course in the civil rights movement. This is a great story about a great man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2002

    Absolutely Terrific!

    This is a book that should be required reading for all Americans. The stories of the brutality experienced by Lewis and his Civil Rights colleagues are unbelievable! The people who experienced 'The Movement' first-hand are true American heroes. John Lewis' story is one for the ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2010

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