Such a beautiful book: engagingly written, heartbreaking, frustrating, inspiring, and *educational*. You won’t find — or I, at least, haven’t found — a more ground-level view of the civil-rights movement from someone who actually lived it. When Lewis is out there on the ground, getting punched and kicked by citizens and police, you’re there with him. When his heart is broken by the death of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, you feel it with him. When, mere weeks later, he’s in California with Robert Kennedy, and Kennedy in turn is assassinated, you feel a light inside yourself going out. And when a nation of black people runs out of hope and turns to violence, you, like Lewis, can understand why. Maybe you don’t agree with the turn to violence, but you understand that eventually something was going to have to change — and if the U.S. government wasn’t going to solve the problem, people were going to take matters into their own hands. And so they did. The dissolution of the SNCC, and its turn away from Gandhian methods, was tragic but probably inevitable.
The final chapter is about the world we live in now. Many people believe the civil-rights movement has run its course. Most everyone has lost faith in our leaders. Lewis’s answer is the same now as it’s ever been: *organize*. Get out there on the streets. Fight for what you know is right. Don’t back down. Realize that you’re in a long struggle, and be patient for results. It’s exhilarating. It’s overwhelming. And it often moved me to tears. This is a great book by a great man.