Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir

Peter Jan Honigsberg, Author University of California Press $40 (177p) ISBN 978-0-520-22147-5
""We were doing God's work, we were on the side of the angels."" In the poetic language of a starry-eyed activist, the mature Honigsberg candidly describes the passion he felt for the civil rights movement and the violent reality he witnessed in rural Louisiana during the late 1960s. Now a law professor at the University of San Francisco, Honigsberg went to New Orleans as a student to provide legal representation for civil rights workers battling Jim Crow laws. At the time, he admits, he was a bit ""na ve and perhaps even self-righteous,"" but he was forced to deepen his thinking when confronted with the ""complex and multilayered"" nature of black-white relations. Still, his fervor for social justice was never doused. Using a winning combination of vivid description and youthful musings, the author recalls the funky, sordid New Orleans nightlife, the sleepy mornings at a smalltown cafe, the hair-raising terror of close calls with the Klan and the practical wisdom of activists like Marian Wright Edelman. Sent to Bogalusa, La. (rumored to contain the largest population of Ku Klux Klan members per capita of any Southern town), the young Honigsberg encountered the little-known Deacons for Defense and Justice, who drew the wary respect of the white community as one of the first African-American organizations to forcefully retaliate against the KKK. Honigsberg's friendships with fellow activists, his reverence for the community leadership and his affection for Louisiana saturate these pages. In acknowledging how the civil rights movement changed the world and his life, Honigsberg has given the reader a glimpse of the past and a rare, remarkable book. B&w photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-520-23459-8
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 192 pages - 978-0-520-92895-4
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