Cover image for Walking with the wind : a memoir of the movement
Walking with the wind : a memoir of the movement
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, c1998.
Physical Description:
496 p. : illustrations ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 LEWIS 1 1
Book 921 LEWIS 1 1

On Order



Forty years ago, a teenaged boy stepped off a cotton farm in Alabama and into the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America, where he has remained to this day, committed still to the nonviolent ideals of his mentor Martin Luther King and the movement they both served. John Lewis's life, which he tells with charm, warmth, and toughness, ranges across the battlefields of the civil rights movement -- Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mississippi. It is peopled with characters, including Diane Nash, Julian Bond, and Marion Barry; Bull Connor and Bobby Kennedy; James Farmer and Jim Forman; Malcolm X and Lyndon Johnson; Shirley MacLaine and David Halberstam; Harry Belafonte and Martin Luther King, and many more. From a sharecropper's farm to Nashville in the late 1950s, Lewis was swept up by the rising winds of the civil rights movement where he risked his life over and over, and went to jail many, many times. By the 1960s, he was steering the sit-in movement through the South, leading the Freedom Rides, assuming the chairmanship of SNCC, and stepping into the national spotlight at the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis was in the Mississippi Summer of 1964, at Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1965, at Bobby Kennedy's side in 1968 moments before Kennedy was gunned down in the kitchen of Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel. As a sixth-term United States Congressman, the highest ranking, black elected official in the country, Lewis continues the nonviolent struggle that has defined his entire life.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lewis, an Alabama sharecropper's son, went to Nashville to attend a Baptist college where, at the end of the 1950s, his life and the new civil rights movement became inexorably entwined. First came the lunch counter sit-ins; then the Freedom Rides; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Lewis's election to its chairmanship; the voter registration drives; the 1963 march on Washington; the Birmingham church bombings; the murders during the Freedom Summer; the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1964; and the march on Montgomery. Lewis was an active, leading member during all of it. Much of his account, written with freelancer D'Orso, covers the same territory as David Halberstam's The Children‘Halberstam himself appears here briefly as a young reporter‘but Lewis imbues it with his own observations as a participant. He is at times so self-effacing in this memoir that he underplays his role in the events he helped create. But he has a sharp eye, and his account of Selma and the march that followed is vivid and personal‘he describes the rivalries within the movement as well as the enemies outside. After being forced out of SNCC because of internal politics, Lewis served in President Carter's domestic peace corps, dabbled in local Georgia politics, then in 1986 defeated his old friend Julian Bond in a race for Congress, where he still serves. Lewis notes that people often take his quietness for meekness. His book, a uniquely well-told testimony by an eyewitness, makes clear that such an impression is entirely inaccurate. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

African American churches would deserve boundless gratitude even if gospel music were their only gift to the nation. But in this vivid memoir from Representative Lewis (D-GA), the impact of these churches is also evident on two levels: in the intimate involvement of churches and clergy in every phase of the civil rights movement throughout the '60s and in the unforced but powerful eloquence of Lewis' narrative (polished, no doubt, by journalist D'Orso). Of course, when Lewis first left rural Pike County, Alabama, where his parents raised 10 children on the proceeds of sharecropping and "working out" on others' land, he headed to tiny American Baptist Theological Seminary; it was there that he joined "the children" (David Halberstam's phrase and the title of his recent book, see The Children ), whose nonviolent civil rights campaigns--from Nashville lunch counters to freedom rides and Freedom Summer--challenged the U.S. to live up to its ideals. Lewis headed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until 1966, when black-power advocates decided his vision of a multiracial "Beloved Community" no longer represented their goal. So Lewis spent 20 years in organizing, foundation work, and politics, winning his Atlanta congressional seat in 1986 (and every two years since). A thoughtful, illuminating "insider" history of the movement and its aftermath. (Reviewed April 15, 1998)0684810654Mary Carroll

School Library Journal Review

YA-Lewis was active in the American civil rights movement almost from the beginning. He was there during the lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville in 1960, took part in the Freedom Rides of 1961, and, as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, spoke at the March on Washington in 1963. The list goes on. Like all memoirs, this one has its biases and limitations. However, for the insider's insights it provides, it is an indispensable resource.-Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Georgia congressman Lewis (with journalist D'Orso's help) crafts a passionate, principled, and absorbing first-person account of the civil-rights movementŽdramatic, well-paced history fired by moral purpose and backed by the authority of hard time in the trenches. Lewis's childhood was the quintessence of post-Reconstruction southern black life. This son of Alabama sharecroppers grew up in a rural shotgun shack, picked cotton, matriculated in a tumbledown one-room schoolhouse, and faced Jim Crow segregation on every trip to town. His adulthood is the quintessence of the struggle to break that oppression. Lewis's itinerary during the civil- rights movement reads like a highlight of its most significant moments. You name it, he was there: launching the nonviolent student protest movement at the Nashville sit-ins, Freedom Riding through the Deep South, delivering the March on Washington's most controversial speech, serving time in Mississippi's infamously brutal Parchman prison, organizing the voter registration drive that brought Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney to Mississippi, marching in Birmingham in 1963 and Selma in 1965. Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and his analysis of rivalries between SNCC and the more mainstream, bourgeois Southern Christian Leadership Conference (headed by Martin Luther King) and his candid assessment of notable players (King, Stokely Carmichael, Julian Bond) serve as reminders of the movement's complexity. Gut-wrenching firsthand descriptions revisit the appalling brutality endured by demonstrators (Lewis suffered a fractured skull leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday). He memorializes not only the drama, but the patience and steely courage of ``the days and days of uneventful protest'' that laid the groundwork for big developmentsŽand that risk being overlooked now. Lewis's faith in Gandhian nonviolent resistance is unshakable, as is his devotion to King and to the thousands of working-class blacks who risked their lives confronting southern tyranny. A classic, invaluable blockbuster history of the civil-rights movement.

Library Journal Review

From a sharecropper's farm through the Civil Rights Movement to the U.S. Congress. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.