And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography

Ralph David Abernathy, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (638p) ISBN 978-0-06-016192-7
Abernathy's autobiographical account of the birth and struggles of the civil rights movement is inspirational and deeply moving. With Martin Luther King Jr., his closest colleague, he helped organize the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and the 1965 march in Selma, Ala.; he and King went north to Chicago in 1966, where they battled Mayor Richard Daley and found racism as endemic and deep-rooted as in the South. He cradled King in his arms when the latter was assassinated in Memphis. Son of a stern, righth- ous farmer father, Abernathy became a Baptist pastor after fighting in WW II with a segregated platoon. In a voice at once down-to-earth and eloquent, he recounts protests, jailings and bombings in Birmingham, St. Augustine, Washington, Charleston and elsewhere. He defends his support of Reagan's 1980 presidential bid, as well as his support, in the next two elections, for Jesse Jackson. Reading this engrossing, powerful memoir-as-history will force white Americans to confront the legacy of racism. Abernathy conveys a sense of how the civil rights movement discovered its tactics and direction in response to individual situations. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 978-0-06-091986-3
Paperback - 638 pages - 978-1-56976-279-0
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