Congressman John Lewis continues to share his inspiring story of the Civil Rights Movement, and his part in it, from 1960-1963.
The book’s title becomes very evident from Mr. Lewis’s desire to march in protest, despite the possible cost in freedom and life. He and many others band together under the Nashville Student Movement. Groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) grow in prominence with different agendas that will promote racial equality such as voter registration and direct action. These brave groups participated in the Freedom Rides in the deep South that got the nation’s attention.
What impressed me was the planning and education that went into the movements and the protests that they were part of. Before the modern era of computers and cell phones, coordinating everything was a tremendous amount of work, in helping the protesters follow the law and stay safe. On the flip side, seeing the abuse that the protesters endured was sickening. People can say that many white citizens were raised with racial bias and they didn’t know any other way due to their cultural upbringing, but the hate and violence that some participated in can not be excused in any way.
The protesters have an ally in Martin Luther King Jr, who preaches about the injustices heaped upon the Freedom Riders and shares these prescient words about Governor Patterson of AL, “His consistent preaching of defiance of the law, his vitriolic public pronouncements, and his irresponsible actions have created the atmosphere in which violence could thrive”. 55 years later, and these words could describe another leader in our midst. Y’all know who I’m referring to!
The book ends with the tragic bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in 1963. This became a turning point for the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that Book Three will cover. The message of the March books is certainly timely with the important Black Lives Matter movement going on today.
I have found so many parallels in these March books and what is going on in Standing Rock, North Dakota, right now. Please consider supporting the Sioux Nation and the Dakota Pipeline Protesters, who have been protesting peacefully since April. This article in Bustle gives five ways in which we can help- we should no longer stand by and see people sprayed with tear gas and water hoses.
These books are a must read for all youth (and adults) today, who don’t remember the sacrifices that were made for the freedoms we hold dear today. We must understand the past, so as not to repeat those mistakes in the future.
*Review of March: Book One can be found here.
*Review of March: Book Three can be found here.