Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement
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Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  889 ratings  ·  111 reviews
An eloquent, epic firsthand account of the civil rights movement by a man who lived it-an American hero whose courage, vision, and dedication helped change history. The son of an Alabama sharecropper, and now a sixth-term United States Congressman, John Lewis has led an extraordinary life, one that found him at the epicenter of the civil rights movement in the late '50s an...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 18th 1999 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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Sarah
Want to know more about the Civil Rights movement? Want to hear about
it from a perspective other than Martin Luther King Jr.s? This is the
book! Reading this book I realized how little I really know about the
Civil Rights movement. I don't remember huge discussions about this
life changing and country changing movement in school. That should change!

John Lewis is a contemporary of MLK. He is the son of sharecroppers
and part of a very large family all of whom worked in the fields
starting at 5 or 6 ye...more
Chrisiant
This is a great history of the civil rights movement from an atypical perspective, but a really important one. John Lewis was there for a lot of the important moments, but wasn't swept up and held on to as one of the shining stars of the civil rights movement - a central grunt worker who maybe didn't get to take enough bows for it all.

I liked that the narrative connected pieces of the civil rights movement I had only ever understood in their separate parts, for example how the Black Panther Part...more
Ademide
This book was amazing and a great history lesson. I'm a congressional staffer and I've always had to contain my excitement whenever I passed Rep. John Lewis in the hallway. I knew that he marched with MLK during the civil rights movement and that was enough to earn my eternal respect and admiration. I finally got around to reading his book and was even more amazed. He began working in the civil rights movement when he was a sophomore in college. He was literally at every major event in the civil...more
Moni
This book was on my summer reading list going into my freshman year. It was the "mandatory" book. When I actually got to school, I found I was one of only a handful of kids who actually read the book cover to cover, and the English teacher didn't actually mind: "I think when they were picking out the books for the summer reading, they didn't realize how long-winded this one is." Aside from being a little annoyed that I wouldn't actually get any credit for reading the book, I felt it was a shame...more
John
This is probably the best movement memoir (from any movement) that I have ever read. John Lewis is just the kind of solid person that every movement needs more of: principled but not dogmatic; combining patience for the people with impatience for injustice; focused on getting results more than getting credit; stodgy rather than flashy; deeply aware that it is the masses who actually make history; always prioritizing organizing over getting mass media publicity. He is not without pride, and he is...more
Sue
On a meandering around Alabama along with small sections of Alabama and Mississippi, I discovered that a story that peppered my youth was much deeper and sadder than what I remembered hearing/reading about. First hand accounts enrich any chapter in our nation's history and this one is no exception. Because those voices in the spotlight are the typical standard of how we learn our history, the windows we become familiar with, the perspective we eventually internalize, we miss out on an understand...more
Cathy Allen
A colleague of Congressman John Lewis once called him "the only man who was already a great man before he arrived in Congress." And that is certainly true. I do not believe there is a greater living American. John Lewis's story is of fundamental importance to all of us who love our country and all the people in it. His memoir is compellingly told and beautifully written. A must read! I have never met Congressman Lewis personally, but a cherished friend gave me an autographed copy of this book in...more
Dayna
I've never read anything like this before, a history of the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of someone who was on the front lines (but who we don't hear much about). I was literally holding my breath in suspense/shock at several moments in the book, in particular when the first group attempts to march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of a very important segment of our nation's history. So...more
Frederic
Conventional Wisdom says that John Lewis is a Secular Saint...and for once,Conventional Wisdom is right...Lewis has chosen to work out his salvation in the realm of politics where saints are thin on the ground and I would not defend every political decision he has made but this book gives much evidence that he is an exemplary human being;brave,intelligent,idealistic and the kind of man we see all too infrequently in Public Life...
Marie Hew
Wow!! I had read excerpts from this book over a decade ago and finally returned to it for the rest of the story. I am impressed now as I was then at the beauty of words and love that Lewis conveys as he remembers back to his impressive work and life. Lewis' opponents might call him sanctimonious or naive, but he's more of an independent thinker and doer who truly believes that people can do the right thing with understanding, embrace and love for all humankind. Certainly it helps to be apart of...more
Dale Anderson
This is a fantastic memoir of the civil right movement, told through the eyes if John L. Lewis. From his upbringing on a dirt poor farm to his experience in college, where he was introduced to the teaching of Jesus and Gandhi, to his involvement and leadership in the Civil Rights Movement, and eventually his election to Congress from a Southern state, this book is a fascinating and mesmerizing read. Lewis' personal remembrances of key historical figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stoke...more
Robert
Congressman John Lewis’s autobiography of his childhood, time in the Civil Rights Movement, and life thereafter is a powerful story. Lewis’s autobiography is one of the best I’ve ever had the chance to read. This is true for a number of reasons. It certainly helps that Lewis’s life is fascinating, but it also helps that Lewis is a wonderful storyteller. Readers can feel the anguish in the difficult parts of Lewis’s life, and can feel the joy in the victories whether they be small or large.

Lewis...more
Lori
John Lewis is an unlikely democratic congressman from Georgia who has a unique and pivotal perspective on the civil rights movement, having been one of the leaders and founders of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and one of the few individuals who truly bridged the gap between Martin Luther King Jr.’s world of politics, the NAACP, SNCC and the later, more militant civil rights organizations like the Black Panthers… and came out of it all with the respect and admiration of everyon...more
Bill Brewer
This was a great book. I had bought it for $1.00 at Smith Family Books in Eugene not knowing anything about it. It turns out it is autographed copy. It was written in 1998 and it is the story of the civil rights movement but just as importantly it is the autobiography of Congressman John Lewis. It starts with his childhood and the feeling as a young man growing up in the South. You cannot help but respect the man. Early on in the book you arrive at 1960 the year John Lewis arrived in Nashville t...more
Charles Gonzalez
What can I say, but that this was an amazing experience, from the moment I opened it to the last words that I just finished 5 minutes ago. Like alot of boomers who lived through the civil rights period, I had a glancing understanding and knowledge of that central struggle in American history. However, like most Americans, white and black I believe, I did not have a real, emotional connection to the spirit that guided those American heroes, of which John Lewis is one of the major actors. I first...more
Michele
I don't have words to describe the admiration I have for this man. In today's political climate where it often seems like more emphasis is placed on image and selfish concerns, here is a man who calls it like he sees it and makes no apologies for acting according to the dictates of his conscience. I would vote for someone like this anyday!

"If we are going to begin turning back toward one another, to humanize one another, we need to humanize the political system, we need to make it respond direct...more
Pam
This is a detailed, insider's view of the Civil Rights Movement. Even if you think you know what was important about this time and the activists who made things happen, there are nuances in the decisions that were made, connections between people and events and stories of unrelenting passion, commitment and bravery that were a revelation to me that may be to other readers, as well. I have renewed respect and admiration for John Lewis, a true hero for our times.
Joe
This is the best book I have read on the Civil Rights movement and a great memoir on growing up black in the Deep South. It's incredible the suffering that Africn Americans had to endure at the hands of segregation, countless anonymous racists, and even some high profile bigots like George Wallace and Bull Conner. It is a truly shameful and horrific part of this country's history. Lewis' measured candor swweps you through his personal story, as the chairman of SNCC, meetings with JFK, RFK, Marti...more
Amy
This book is so full. I learned a lot from this window into the author's family background and early life. It was wonderful to be able to see him as a brave man, and also as as just a regular guy impressed with Shirley McClaine's dancing at a party.


From p. 501 -
“On the one hand prayer is to me is an attempt to communicate with a power, with a force, with a being much greater than I am. On the other hand it is a period of simply having an executive session with yourself. It’s a period of being al...more
Joe
Hope this book never goes out of print. John Lewis is a testament to the impact one person can have when measured by the good he has inspired in others. Rev King inspired Lewis and Lewis is a living testimony to his ideal of the beloved community. In a time when men of honor are in short supply, it is comforting to know John Lewis is still standing. Page 417 - as Lewis watched the thousands of Americans who stood beside the train tracks to say a silent goodbye to Bobby Kennedy and the funeral tr...more
Ben
One of the most moving books I've ever read in my life. Tragic and inspirational. I can't believe some of the things that happened so recently in our country's history. When you're young and have very little concept of time, something that happened 60 years ago might as well have happened 6,000 years ago. But to understand that less than 50 years ago, people of differing skin colors were not allowed to use the same bathroom or eat at the same table as others in many parts of this country, well,...more
Victoria Law
I read this, and a slew of other civil rights biographies, during my first month of motherhood after having taken an amazing class on the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements of the 1960s. I really appreciated John Lewis's descriptions of the often long, drawn-out process that civil rights organizers, students and SNCC members went through to formulate plans of actions. I think that some of those chapters should be required reading for some of the young people engaged in Occupy Wall Stree...more
Ginny
A wonderful memoir by John Lewis - his life; his strong role in the civil rights era; his life as a US Congressman from Georgia. He is truly one of my heroes.
Kim Ruehl
I've spent the past few years reading - almost exclusively - movement memoirs, and have to say this is one of the most engaging and comprehensive accounts of the civil rights movement from the 50s forward. (There are a couple which trump this for the earlier parts of the movement, like 'Defying Dixie', though that volume is hardly as accessible for casual readers.) Lewis is a hero and his story is one of the most vital of the civil rights leaders who are still living and working toward a Beloved...more
Holly
Wow, what a great book. I learned a lot about the movement and about John Lewis. I know bits and pieces about this time through school, other books (mostly children's), and a pbs documentary ("Eyes on the Prize") but it's been a long time since I thought about it. I didn't know John Lewis at all except for references to him at the inauguration so this filled me in on his background and beliefs. This book was pretty well written and mostly did not get bogged down in lots of details, which helped...more
Drick
John Lewis is one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement who often gets overlooked and lost in the midst of some of the other greats. In this book Lewis tells his own story starting with his humble beginnings in rural Alabama. The bulk of the book covers his involvement in the Civil Rights movement and the struggles within SNCC, but then moves onto his work beyond SNCC. The last chapter sort of rambles with his story of being elected to Congress and then his views on the state of race and po...more
April
This is absolutely the strongest case for liberalism that I've ever been exposed to. The history is detailed and informative. The writing is powerful, and articulates so well some of liberalism's best arguments. I just happen to be a conservative who can only agree with the premise of racial equality. Rep. Lewis leaves me in the dust beyond that point.

In the end the book was a materialistic man-made solution to human nature. I'm confident that if the civil rights movement had relied more on Jes...more
Amy
Apr 08, 2013 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: for-me
overall, i really enjoyed this. i like and respect john lewis and thought it was valuable to learn more about the civil rights movement through his eyes. the beginning sections that take place in the early 1960s about his work in tennessee and alabama and mississippi were particularly interest. i thought it was a pretty glaring and unfair decision to include virtually nothing about the bpp--even if he doesn't agree with their stances on violence they were still a major part of the activism aroun...more
Open Door Baltimore
This is one of the 10 best books ever written on the long, terrible history of America's struggle with race. John Lewis, who has since gone on to become a Congressman from Georgia, was at one time, an integral part of Dr. King's inner circle. If you're under the age of 50 and you missed the full impact of the 1960's civil rights era, this could be the most important personal account you will ever read. John Lewis is one of America's great heroes. His story is one that needs to be told over and o...more
Liz
I read this autobiography more than 10 years ago, so cannot review it with specificity. I was prompted to review it today after seeing an interview with Mr. Lewis today on our local newscast, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

This book is easily in the top 10 books I've ever read, and should probably be required reading for all Americans. I remember being engrossed in his gripping account of the Civil Rights movement. I'm not sure I've ever found a biographical book to...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Author disambiguation: John Lewis 6 28 Jun 24, 2012 12:10PM  
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John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, serving since 1987 and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is one of the m...more
More about John Robert Lewis...
March: Book One (March, #1) Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change March: Book Two (March, #2) Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement

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