In the summer of 1961, Brewster, a white seminary student from the North, worked at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where both Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. were pastors. In this moving memoir, he recalls his first encounters with Atlanta's segregated restrooms, restaurants and public swimming pools, and describes finding the spontaneous church services of the black Baptist tradition both unnerving and energizing. When local white ministers didn't embrace Brewster's idea of setting up meetings between black and white church youth groups, Brewster's eyes were opened about the intransigent racism of ostensibly moderate white clergy. (Less dramatically, Brewster also learned about that staple of Southern cuisine, grits, during his Atlanta summer.) Brewster's book is valuable not only for the record of his own awakenings, but for the personal anecdotes about King Sr., who emerges as a passionate, wise man with a sense of humor equal to his sense of justice. Though Brewster is not attempting to analyze the Civil Rights movement, he does offer useful insights about the importance of hymnody in black churches' freedom struggle. The prose is uneven; often, Brewster's descriptions are vivid and energetic, but occasionally he lapses into didactic clichés ("I was shaken. This experience would change my life."). On the whole, however, this memoir is engaging and inspiring. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The life lessons Brewster learned in 1961 from Martin Luther King Sr., fondly known as Daddy King, and the relationship they enjoyed, akin to father-son, have lasted throughout Brewster's life, which included 30 years as Episcopal chaplain at Cornell University. Brewster's affecting memoir tells the story of his stay with the Kings and his work as leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church's youth group when he was a 24-year-old seminary student. For the first time in his life, Brewster experienced discrimination from hostile whites, who confronted him as a rabble-rouser (Brewster is white), and from fellow clergy who cautioned him about moving too fast in promoting civil rights. Conversely, Ebenezer's congregation, especially the teens with whom he worked and the memorable shut-ins whom he visited and prayed with, welcomed him. Brewster's most engaging stories are the ones he relates about his discussions over breakfast with Daddy King, who spoke about his life as a sharecropper's son. The two remained close until Daddy King's death in 1984. Readers will enjoy this uplifting account of people who practice what they preach; strongly recommended for public libraries and an excellent choice for young adult discussion groups.