Thursday, May 15, 2008
Pillar of Fire Book Review
In a previous post, I'd written how I was reading "Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years 1963-65" by Taylor Branch. Well I finally finished it. Coach J had me take 2 weeks off and regroup after White Lake, so I've had some time to catch up on my reading. My "A" race, http://www.beach2battleship.com/ isn't until November so a mid-season break is in order. Like Wyclef says, "gone to November".
Back to the book review. I actually had purchased the book almost a year ago when I was visiting my Dad in Los Angeles. My Dad lives in an area of Los Angeles called Leimert Park. While I was out visiting him I heard some drumming in the distance and decided to go check it out. I walked the couple of blocks up to Leimert Park and come to find out on Sundays there's an impromptu group of drummers who come out and have what's known as an African Drum Circle.
There were about a dozen or so drummers putting in work and then ladies would enter the circle and dance to the rhythms. It was all very spontaneous and organic. This one older dreadlocked guy would start a beat and then the others would fall in. Then when the dancers would jump in, the effect was almost mesmerizing.
Anyway, there were a few vendors selling used books on the picnic tables and I picked up Pillar of Fire. I had read another of Branch's books on the King years, "Parting The Waters, America in the King Years 1954-63". Again purchased at a used book vendor. I enjoyed this book and learned so many things about the struggle for blacks to gain civil rights that I jumped on the Pillar of Fire. To top it off the price was right too.
Pillar of Fire picks up where Parting the Waters stopped. America is entering the thick of the Civil Rights struggle and Mr. Branch does an expert job in chronicling this history. I have to admit though, it was tough to read about the sheer terror that my forebearers went through just to do something as simple as register to vote. The terror wasn't just to black folks either, there were many white folk who bleed and died, because they joined the struggle alongside black folk to garner the right to vote.
The whole book was excellent and I feel a must have. The parts that stood out the most for me were the accounts of Freedom Summer, 1964 and the Nobel Prize won Dr. Martin Luther King. Oh man, I don't know how people endured what went on during that time. After reading the book, I have a renewed and profound respect for the people who fought the fight to make America a better place.