AN EASY BURDEN by Andrew Young


The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America
Email this review


 A sweeping, well-written account of the southern civil rights movement by an important insider. Born in 1932 to parents who believed in ``God, hard work, and education'' as weapons against segregation, this eventual congressman, UN ambassador, and mayor of Atlanta came of age at a critical time in African-American history. Well educated and well read himself, Young came to the civil-rights movement with a belief that civility, compassion, and nonviolence could be equally formidable weapons in the struggle for equality. (``Daddy,'' he writes, ``taught me that racism was a sickness and to have compassion for racist whites as I would have compassion for a polio victim.'') He also rejected the then widely circulated belief, drawn from the teachings of W.E.B. DuBois, that only the efforts of the top ten percent of the ``Negro race'' (the ``talented tenth'') would be capable of advancing the cause of their people, cultivating instead a populist view of the struggle. Young's convictions served him well as a lieutenant of Martin Luther King Jr., in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as he acted both as a liaison to white groups (``the changes we were proposing were enormously threatening and we had to help white people embrace them'') and as a moderate voice within King's closest circle of advisors. Young takes his readers to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, St. Augustine, and Washington; he vividly recounts the growth of the movement through the 1960s and the turmoil after King's assassination. Young's firsthand reportage adds much of value to his book; so does his continuing commitment to ethnic and social equality based on ``a strong vision of a better life to come, not just the wreaking of vengeance or a mere trading of one form of exploitation for another, or one oppressor for another.'' A fine, memorable addition to the literature. ($135,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio and TV satellite tours)

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017362-9
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1996


NonfictionFREE ALL ALONG by Stephen Drury Smith
by Stephen Drury Smith
NonfictionWITNESS TO CHANGE by Sybil Haydel Morial
by Sybil Haydel Morial