cover image Watching Our Crops Come in

Watching Our Crops Come in

Clifton L. Taulbert. Viking Books, $15.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85952-8

Continuing the autobiographical coming-of-age saga begun in When We Were Colored and The Last Train North, Taulbert opens this modest, gracefully written memoir in 1967 when, as an African American in the U.S. Air Force, he feared being sent to Vietnam but was assigned instead to a Washington, D.C., smoldering with racial unrest. On leave, he returns to his hometown in the Mississippi delta and discovers a South being gradually transformed by the civil rights movement; black and white volunteers are working together for social change. His sister's arrest in 1968 during a demonstration on the University of Mississippi campus makes him realize that the struggle for freedom will exact a price. Taulbert's enthusiastic idealism as a campaign volunteer assisting Robert Kennedy's presidential bid turns to anger and despair with RFK's assassination that same year. Later he marches on Washington with the Poor People's Campaign. Although he seems more of an observer than a participant in the struggles he describes, his eloquent memoir offers a stirring picture of the birth of the new South. Photos. Author tour. (Feb.) FYI: When We Were Colored is now a film with Phylicia Rashad, Polly Bergen, Richard Roundtree and Al Freeman Jr.