The Children is David Halberstam's brilliant and moving evocation of the early days of the civil rights movement, as seen through the story of the young people--the Children--who met in the 1960s and went on to lead the revolution. Magisterial in scope, with a strong you-are-there quality, The Children is a story one of America's preeminent journalists has waited years to write, a powerful book about one of the most dramatic movements in American history.
They came together as part of Reverend James Lawson's workshops on nonviolence, eight idealistic black students whose families had sacrificed much so that they could go to college. And they risked it all, and their lives besides, when they joined the growing civil rights movement. David Halberstam shows how Martin Luther King, Jr. recruited Lawson to come to Nashville to train students in Gandhian techniques of nonviolence. We see the strength of the families the Children came from, moving portraits of several generations of the black experience in America. We feel Diane Nash's fear before the first sit-in to protest segregation of Nashville lunch counters, and then we see how Diane Nash and others--John Lewis, Gloria Johnson, Bernard Lafayette, Marion Barry, Curtis Murphy, James Bevel, Rodney Powell--persevered until they ultimately accomplished that goal. After the sit-ins, when the Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate buses were in danger of being stopped because of violence, it was these same young people who led the bitter battle into the Deep South. Halberstam takes us into those buses, lets us witness the violence the students encountered in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma. And he shows what has happened to the Children since the 1960s, as they have gone on with their lives.
The Children bears the trademark qualities that have made David Halberstam one of the leading nonfiction writers of our era. The Children is his most personal book since The Best and the Brightest, a magnificent re-creation of a unique period in America, and of the lives of the ordinary people whose courage and vision changed history.two