A definitive account of the legacy of the civil rights movement, and the work that continues to be done today
In 1963, John Perdew was arrested in Georgia for demonstrating against segregation and was convicted of sedition, a capital crime. Fifty years ago Perdew and others of his generation worked to overthrow Jim Crow and open the polling booths for all Americans. Recently, the front page of the New York Times ran these headlines: "Desegregation Deal Completed," "Federal Scrutiny of Voting." In the last fifty years, has America progressed on matters of race, or are we stalled—or even moving backward?
With these questions in mind, Benjamin Hedin set out to visit the places and people who shaped the civil rights movement. "I wanted to find the movement in its contemporary guise," he writes, "which also meant answering the critical question of what happened to it after the 1960s." He profiles some legendary figures, like John Lewis, Robert Moses, and Julian Bond, and meets with many whose story has never been told, and who are continuing the fight today.
In these pages the movement is portrayed as never before, as a vibrant tradition of activism that remains in our midst. Combining history with journalism and travelogue, In Search of the Movement is a fascinating meditation on patterns of history, as well as an indelible look at the meaning and limits of American freedom.
Benjamin Hedin has written for The New Yorker, Slate, The Nation, and The Chicago Tribune. He's the editor of Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, and the producer and author of a forthcoming documentary film, "The Blues House."