Memphis Instruments of Peace by Anne Whalen Shafer

Memphis Instruments of Peace

How Volunteers and Visionaries Challenged Racism, Reactionary Politicians and the Catholic Hierarchy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman’s powerful account of her determination to bring justice to the world.

Shafer’s debut memoir details the social causes she took up as a young woman in the South—civil rights, religious freedom and equality for women. Her efforts were inspired and guided by God, who spoke to her on five specific occasions. The first occurred when she was a senior in high school, already determined to dedicate her life to God as a nun, despite her priest’s discouragement. God intervened, telling her, “You will help reform the Church from outside the walls.” God continued to contact her, always with a message about helping others and achieving more love among mankind. Eager to realize her destiny, Shafer became active in Memphis politics in the 1950s after influential former mayor E. H. Crump died, leaving a political machine struggling to survive without its leader. Shafer reminisces about the decade that followed Crump’s death, calling the ’60s a time when “Grace from heaven came down like a beautiful light snow, telling us a new day had dawned.” Indeed, the decade ushered in opportunities for Shafer to seize, as she doggedly fought for African-Americans to have the right to live in whichever neighborhood they pleased and for schools to be open to both races. Shafer’s determination and influence led to many positive changes throughout the South, mostly resulting in segregation decreasing in various parts of Memphis. Her bravery and forward-thinking, as well as her connection to God, motivated her to improve the lives of those around her. Written with candor and wit, this memoir is both politically informative and spiritually uplifting. Though the content can be dense, it’s also richly explored and well-paced, with Shafer tracing the rise of her political involvement while citing fascinating and occasionally humorous moments along the way. Her inspiring story serves as a powerful reminder that one person can truly make a difference.

An insider’s look at the political changes that shook the South.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615688459
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: Anne Shafer
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013