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Was the “The Movement” Primarily a Struggle for Civil Rights or Human Rights, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Civil rights movement in the US history was a political movement of people towards rights and equality before law. It was a tenuous and lengthy path accompanied by various rebellions and civil unrest. It took tremendous efforts and many lives of the US citizens to establish a free and equal society. It refers to the events and movements in the country against public and personal racial discrimination.

“Walking with the Wind” is an incredible book devoted to “The Movement” that was written by John Robert Lewis, who was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and today is one of the prominent American politicians. Born in Troy, Alabama, a young boy was set to become one of the people who made a significant difference in the past historical events that shaped our country. Lewis was one of those individuals who organized various boycotts and nonviolent protests against racial inequality and voting rights. He became known for playing an important role in the Selma to Montgomery marches because he was always active and a leader of many.

When Lewis was a little child, he was a “different seed” from the kids of his age. From his early childhood, he knew that he had to step out of the orderly line and become a person who will challenge the system. The system that kept him and his family from achieving his full potential and dreams. However, Lewis did not know that he was to become one of those who will be on the forefront of changing the attitude of America on racial discrimination that he laid out in his book “Walking in the Wind”.

“Walking with the Wind” is a book about the son of the sharecropper in Alabama who stepped off the farm of his father and got right into the epicenter of the struggle for the civil rights. John Lewis narrates his life in a simple public and private manner. Born in a rural poverty but in a one loving and caring family, Lewis had an extraordinary life.

John Lewis was a leader of the Nashville Movement which was a student effort to unite the city by means of sit-in techniques according to the teaching of Gandhi. Being a part of it, a young man became one of the key figures of the movement and even set a tone for several major civil campaigns of the 60’s. “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” (“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”) During the Freedom Rides of 1961 Lewis was harshly beaten and got to jail. Later he becomes a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee where he assisted to shape and lead the organization. At the time of the attack of Selma in 1965 at the so-called “Bloody Sunday”, John Lewis has suffered a broken skull during the gas attack by the troops. He was a man of strong will who was not willing to give up his childhood hero, Martin Luther King, and who pursued his believes on and on. Same as Mr. King, John Lewis was a true believer in the nonviolent social action philosophy.

Later in 1966 Lewis was overthrown being the chairmen of SNCC by Stokely Carmichael who was supporting an uprising “Black Power” direction. In several year Lewis was there supporting the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy and he was with him before the assassination of the latter. John Lewis was committed to the nonviolence principles and devoted a lot of his time to organize millions of voters in the South of the country.

In “Walking with the Wind” Lewis tells his personal story of the struggle for civil rights, about the battles and victories. He brings our attention to his own faith, to what he believed with sincerity. Arrested more than 40 times and having been numerously beaten during some of the events, Lewis was one of the youngest and most courageous leaders of “The Movement”. The book offers us a unique insight into the peculiarities and details of those times. It shows us personalities and individuals who fought for the civil rights and gives a close look on what was happening behind the scenes.

What makes “Walking with the Wind” a particularly unique book is that it does not give the audience a rewritten information about a well know figures such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. The story introduces unknown heroes and brings them to the forefront of Selma’s Sunday, March to Washington, etc. Such figure as, for instance, Diane Nash was one of the few African-Americans who were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to make sure that the safe future was out there and that the next generations will have guaranteed equal rights.

Bringing audience behind the scenes of “The Movement” and SNCC is what lies in the soul of this book. It allows us to see that while students were fighting with the brutality of the police, there existed struggles between John Lewis himself and Stokely Carmichael, his opposite, who pursued aggressive thoughts throughout the people. The struggle was more internal at the beginning but with the time it split the leaders apart. In his book Lewis does not show the depressing times themselves, but tries to remind the audience that the work of SNCC lead to Civil Rights Act in 1964 and to Voter’s Rights Act in 1965 when people finally could feel that no one can “deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color”. (Transcript of Voting Rights Act)

The book “Walking with the Wind” has to be an inspiration of the youth nowadays. People, who are feeling that society is being inattentive to their needs, should pay more attention to this story as well as to the demonstrations and marches that are possibly lacking in the present times. Important civil rights’ activities took place and helped to position the civil rights movement to its significant recognition. Directly or indirectly the changes led to key improvements in the legislation. “All persons shall be entitles to be free” goes in the Transcript of Civil Rights Act. Throughout the history of America, the pursuit of equal civil liberties and rights was a common theme of its development. Key figures and activists fought, at times with their lives, to provide the realization of rights guaranteed by the American Constitution. The struggle itself went far beyond just the civil rights under law but touched down such fundamental aspects as respect, dignity, social and economic equality and freedom. “If you lived out in the country back then, you lived among your own kind”. (Lewis, p. 6). The civil rights movement has greatly transformed the society and culture of America. It brought about less tolerance towards racial and gender discriminations.

As the changes during late 90’s continued to happen and bring about positive changes and total abolishment of the discrimination, today with the President Obama we observe the strongest result of the civil rights movement. US being a recognized world power is setting a strong example for the leaders and countries worldwide.

Works Cited

Lewis, John “Walking with the Wind: a Memoir of the Movement” (1998) New York Simon and Schuster

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]” (1963) http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Transcript of Civil Rights Act (1964)

Transcript of Voting Rights Act (1965)

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