cover image His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

Jon Meacham. Random House, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-1-984855-02-2

A profile in courage and faith under fire emerges from this vivid portrait of Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis (1940–2020). Meacham (The Hope of Glory) focuses on Lewis’s experiences during the late 1950s and ’60s as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a leader in crucial civil rights actions. It’s an epic story in Meacham’s impassioned telling: arrested and beaten many times, Lewis was knocked unconscious by a white mob in Montgomery, Ala., during the Freedom Rides, and had his skull fractured during the 1965 Bloody Sunday march in Selma, where, “trapped between asphalt and his uniformed attackers, inhaling tear gas and reeling from the billy club blow to his head, [he] felt everything dimming.” Meacham also probes the nonviolent protest philosophy Lewis learned from Martin Luther King Jr. and others, exploring its Christian intellectual roots, its practical discipline—training sessions featured mock racist attacks—and Lewis’s lonely adherence to nonviolence and integrationism after the SNCC gravitated to Black Power militance. Meacham sometimes goes overboard in his adulation, declaring Lewis a “saint” who “seemed to walk with Jesus Himself” and was “in the world, but not really of it.” Still, this gripping work is deeply relevant to America’s current turmoil over racial injustice. (Oct.)