His truth is marching on : John Lewis and the power of hope / Jon Meacham ; afterword by John Lewis.

By: Meacham, Jon
Material type: TextTextPublisher: New York : Random House, [2020]Edition: First editionDescription: xii, 354 pages : illustrations ; 25 cmISBN: 9781984855022; 1984855026Subject(s): Lewis, John, 1940-2020 | United States. Congress. House -- Biography | African American civil rights workers -- Biography | Civil rights workers -- United States -- Biography | Legislators -- United States -- Biography | Protest movements -- United StatesDDC classification: 328.73/092 | B Summary: "John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother's unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father's tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a preacher, practiced by preaching to the chickens he took care of. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it--his first act of non-violent protest. Integral to Lewis's commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God, and an unshakable belief in the power of hope. Meacham calls Lewis "as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did--risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful--not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion"-- Provided by publisher.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother's unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father's tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a preacher, practiced by preaching to the chickens he took care of. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it--his first act of non-violent protest. Integral to Lewis's commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God, and an unshakable belief in the power of hope.<br> <br> Meacham calls Lewis "as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did--risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful--not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion."

Includes bibliographical references (pages 321-338) and index.

"John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother's unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father's tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a preacher, practiced by preaching to the chickens he took care of. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it--his first act of non-violent protest. Integral to Lewis's commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God, and an unshakable belief in the power of hope. Meacham calls Lewis "as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did--risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful--not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion"-- Provided by publisher.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Overture The Last March (p. 3)
  • Chapter 1 A Hard Life, A Serious Life
  • Troy, Alabama: Beginnings to 1957 (p. 17)
  • Chapter 2 The Spirit of History
  • Nashville, Tennessee: 1957-60 (p. 45)
  • Chapter 3 Soul Force
  • The Freedom Rides: 1961 (p. 83)
  • Chapter 4 In the Image of God and Democracy
  • Birmingham and Washington: 1963 (p. 117)
  • Chapter 5 We are Going to Make You Wish You was Dead
  • Freedom Summer and Atlantic City: 1963-64 (p. 147)
  • Chapter 6 I'm Going to Die Here
  • Selma, Alabama: 1965 (p. 183)
  • Chapter 7 This Country Don't Run on Love
  • New York, Memphis, Los Angeles: 1966-68 (p. 210)
  • Epilogue Against the Rulers of the Darkness (p. 233)
  • Afterword (p. 247)
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgments (p. 251)
  • Appendix (p. 255)
  • Source Notes (p. 267)
  • Bibliography (p. 321)
  • Illustration List and Credits (p. 339)
  • Index (p. 345)

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

<opt> <anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Chapter One A Hard Life, a Serious Life Troy, Alabama: Beginnings to 1957 Work and put your trust in God, and God's gonna take care of his children. God's gonna take care of his children. --Oft-repeated counsel from Willie Mae Carter Lewis, John's mother Costly grace . . . is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer For John Lewis, slavery wasn't an abstraction. It was as real to him as his great-grandfather, Frank Carter, who lived until his great-grandson was seven. Light-skinned, hardworking, and self-confident, Carter, whom Lewis called "Grandpapa," had been born into enslavement in Pike County, Alabama, in 1862. The family has long believed that a white man was likely Frank Carter's father--Carter and his own son, whose name was Dink, were, Lewis recalled, "light, very fair, and their hair was different, what we could call good hair"--but the subject was shrouded in secrecy and silence. This much is clear: The trajectory of the infant Frank Carter's life was fundamentally changed on Thursday, January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln declared the enslaved in the seceded Confederate States of America were now free, and by the ratification, in December 1865, of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery "within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Coming of age in Reconstruction and under Jim Crow, Carter was driven and skilled in the world available to him. Yet the "new birth of freedom" of which Lincoln had spoken at Gettysburg in 1863 had failed to come fully into being after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in 1865. Within eight months of the war's end, Alabama's legislature had instituted a Black Code to curtail the rights of African Americans and give the old ways new form and new force. In 1866, the federal government, driven by Republicans in Congress, sought to bring interracial democracy to the South. The reactionary Black Code was repealed; new constitutions were written; black people were by and large allowed to vote; and African American candidates were elected to federal, state, and local office. White reaction was fierce. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in these postbellum years--a Confederate general named Edmund Pettus was a grand dragon--and, by 1901, when Frank Carter was nearly forty, white Alabama had reverted as much as it could to an antebellum order by legalizing segregation, circumscribing suffrage, and banning interracial marriage. At the dawn of a new century, then, the old color line had been redrawn and reinforced. Alabama's 1901 constitution establishing white supremacy had been debated in Montgomery from May to September of that year, ending in time for the cotton harvest. Fifty miles away from the state capitol, Frank Carter leased his land from J. S. "Big Josh" Copeland, a major figure in Troy, the Pike County seat. Carter worked his way to an unusual level of sharecropping called "standing rent," which meant he paid Copeland to lease the land but did not owe the landlord any of his yield beyond the rent. Diligent, resourceful, and determined, Lewis's great-grandfather did the best he could under the constraints of his time. "He couldn't read or write," his great-grandson said, "but he could do financial transactions in his head faster than the man on the other side of the desk could work them out with a pen and paper." Carter took great pride in just about everything he did. "He would sit in his rocking chair on his porch," John Lewis recalled, "and he acted like he was the king." In a way, he was--at least of the piece of Pike County that came to be known as Carter's Quarters. It was there, in 1914, that his granddaughter Willie Mae was born to Frank's son Dink. In 1932, she married Edward Lewis, who had been born (along with his twin sister, Edna) in 1909 in Roberta, Georgia. Eddie's mother, Lula, had come to Carter's Quarters after a separation from her husband, Henry. Willie Mae and Eddie met at Macedonia Baptist Church and fell in love. He called her "Sugarfoot"; she called him "Shorty." They were to have ten children: Ora, Edward, Sammy, Grant, Freddie, Adolph, William, Ethel, Rosa (also called Mae)--and John Robert Lewis, who was born in a shotgun shack in Carter's Quarters on a cold Wednesday, February 21, 1940. Readers of The Montgomery Advertiser that day saw headlines about the German sinking of three British ships and Democratic anxiety about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's silence on whether he'd seek a third term. Closer to home, The Troy Messenger reported on a local man's suicide--he had jumped from the nineteenth floor of a downtown Montgomery hotel--and announced an upcoming fiddling contest in the County Activities building that would include Harpo Kidwell, "national champion harmonica king." The Troy paper also published a biblical "Thought for the Day," drawn from First Peter: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you." It was a harrowing era to be black, Southern, and American. In June 1940, when John Lewis was four months old, Jesse Thornton, a twenty-six-year-old churchgoing African American man who lived twenty miles away from Troy, in Luverne, Alabama, was standing outside a black barbershop when a white Luverne police officer walked by. Thornton allegedly failed to address the policeman with the honorific "Mister." Thornton wasn't thinking, or at least wasn't thinking the way a black man was supposed to think under a regime of white supremacy. He was lynched, his corpse dumped in a nearby swamp. Thornton's body was found several days later floating in the Patsaliga River, mauled and gnawed by vultures and buzzards. According to the Luverne newspaper, "the cause of his death is a mystery that will probably never be solved." In a typewritten report on the incident, Charles A. J. McPherson, the secretary of the Birmingham branch of the NAACP, wrote, "These lynchings are organized and hushed up too in Hitler fashion and who knows how often?" Terror could strike African Americans at any time--and justice was bitterly elusive. On the evening of Sunday, September 3, 1944, in Abbeville, Alabama--about fifty miles from the Lewises' Troy--a twenty-four-year-old African American woman, Recy Taylor, was walking home after services at the Rock Hill Holiness Church. She had a husband and a two-year-old baby. In the darkness, seven white men kidnapped her at gunpoint; six of them gang-raped her. "I'm begging them to leave me alone--don't shoot me--I got to go home and see about my baby," Mrs. Taylor recalled. "They wouldn't let me go. I can't help but tell the truth of what they done to me." The NAACP in Montgomery heard about the case and asked one of its members, a woman who happened to have family in Abbeville, to go over and investigate. Rosa Parks accepted the assignment, learned the details of the attack, and helped organize a campaign for justice for Mrs. Taylor, who bravely spoke up about the crime. But there would be no justice: All-white grand juries twice refused to indict the well-known assailants. There seemed no hope. An omitted "Mister" might get you dumped in a swamp on an otherwise unremarkable summer day; walking home from church could lead to horrific sexual violence. "We know that if we protest we will be called 'bad niggers,' " the novelist Richard Wright wrote in his 1941 book Twelve Million Black Voices. "The Lords of the Land will preach the doctrine of 'white supremacy' to the poor whites who are eager to form mobs. In the midst of general hysteria they will seize one of us--it does not matter who, the innocent or guilty--and, as a token, a naked and bleeding body will be dragged through the dusty streets." That was the way of the world into which John Lewis was born. His first memory was of his mother's garden. "There was a little gate, and when you opened the gate, there was a large bucket that filled with rain, and we used it to water the vegetables and the flowers and the plants," Lewis recalled. "I loved to make things grow, to pour out that water. I somehow always knew that water was good. I would always love raising things." Excerpted from His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon> </opt>

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Kirkus Book Review

The story of the late congressman and activist's massive contributions to the civil rights movement. Pulitzer Prize winner Meacham, a Time contributing editor and professor at Vanderbilt, has written about many significant figures in American history. In this timely biography, the author narrates the incredible life of John Lewis (1940-2020), one of the civil rights movement's most prominent leaders. Meacham concisely chronicles his subject's highs and lows and, most importantly, his personal sacrifices--not least of them being severely beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 while leading a protest march. Given his remarkable accomplishments, Lewis is that rare historical figure who deserves his lionization. Refreshingly, Meacham offers a distinctly human portrait of a man who struggled with anxieties, fears, and occasionally despair, a leader who dug deep to find the courage to keep going in the face of nearly insurmountable cultural resistance. From his humble beginnings to his recent death, the author clearly demonstrates Lewis' bravery and survivor's instinct, whether he was penetrating segregated stores in Nashville in 1960, organizing the Freedom Riders a year later, or becoming the go-to young organizer who had the ear of everyone from John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the book, Meacham not only shows Lewis' obvious talent as an organizer and an instigator of what he called "good trouble"; what also emerges is the story of a preacher, the calling that a young Lewis yearned for and never really gave up. As always, the author is a fluid writer, and the book benefits from his inclusion of commentary from such contemporaries as Harry Belafonte. An added bonus is a heartfelt epilogue by Lewis himself. "The civil rights movement," he writes, "brought about a nonviolent revolution--a revolution in values, a rev-olution in ideas. The soul force of this movement enabled America to find its moral compass." An elegant, moving portrait of a giant of post-1950 American history. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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