Stride Toward Freedom

Published for the first time in Britain as part of Souvenir Press’s Independent Voices series Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is Dr Martin Luther King’s gripping account of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955/6, the first mortal blow to segregation in the Deep South, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

When the history books are written in future, somebody will have to say, “There lived a race of people—a black people—a people who had the courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization.”

Martin Luther King Jr
Montgomery’s Holt Street Baptist church, Dec 5th 1955

Stride Toward Freedom2

At the time King was only 26 years old and the pastor of a Baptist church, within a year he was a national figure and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

“While the nature of this account causes me to make frequent use of the pronoun ‘I’ in every important part of the story it should be ‘we’.”

And it was Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws, that made the first cut into this oppressive knot.

She refused, King says, because she was “anchored to her seat by accumulated indignities of days gone by and…She was a victim of both the forces of history and the forces of destiny. She had been tracked down by the zeitgeist.”

King’s book, masterfully records the boycott as it grew, from meeting rooms and church assemblies, and even the Bricklayers Union, until 50,000 African Americans chose to walk to work, sometimes over 12 miles, for a year, in a non-violent protest that drew continual violence from its opponents.

But whether describing the bombing of his own house, or that of four churches, King’s faith shines through, not as a balm, but as an argument:

‘”A mass movement of a militant quality that is not at the same time committed to non-violence tends to generate conflict, which in turns breeds anarchy.”

Happy Birthday Dr King.

.

.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s