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The Fight for Freedom: A Memoir of My Years in the Civil Rights Movement

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In the summer of 1965, an eighteen-year old boy, filled with frustration and anger at the injustices of the segregated society in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, volunteers to help Civil Rights workers sent to Alabama by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as part of a campaign to register black people to vote. A few short months later he finds himself in Atlanta, In the summer of 1965, an eighteen-year old boy, filled with frustration and anger at the injustices of the segregated society in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, volunteers to help Civil Rights workers sent to Alabama by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as part of a campaign to register black people to vote. A few short months later he finds himself in Atlanta, standing in the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, being interviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for a position on SCLC's field staff. As a young foot soldier in the Civil Rights Movement, John Reynolds was an eyewitness to history. In The Fight for Freedom, he shares his experiences in some of the hot spots of that day, such as Selma, Birmingham, and Mississippi. A passionate and dedicated soldier, Reynolds was jailed more than twenty times and beaten on a number of occasions as he went through some of the toughest battles of the Movement and played a role in awakening the national conscience and redeeming the soul of America.


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In the summer of 1965, an eighteen-year old boy, filled with frustration and anger at the injustices of the segregated society in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, volunteers to help Civil Rights workers sent to Alabama by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as part of a campaign to register black people to vote. A few short months later he finds himself in Atlanta, In the summer of 1965, an eighteen-year old boy, filled with frustration and anger at the injustices of the segregated society in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, volunteers to help Civil Rights workers sent to Alabama by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as part of a campaign to register black people to vote. A few short months later he finds himself in Atlanta, standing in the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, being interviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for a position on SCLC's field staff. As a young foot soldier in the Civil Rights Movement, John Reynolds was an eyewitness to history. In The Fight for Freedom, he shares his experiences in some of the hot spots of that day, such as Selma, Birmingham, and Mississippi. A passionate and dedicated soldier, Reynolds was jailed more than twenty times and beaten on a number of occasions as he went through some of the toughest battles of the Movement and played a role in awakening the national conscience and redeeming the soul of America.

42 review for The Fight for Freedom: A Memoir of My Years in the Civil Rights Movement

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Ferguson

    The Fight For Freedom is the coming of age tale of a man and a nation. Tracing his years in the Civil Rights Movement, Reynolds gives us an insider’s view of the people, events, and tactics that brought the United States closer to the fulfillment of the founders’ promise that “all men are created equal.” Reynolds, a black man raised on a plantation in Alabama, witnessed firsthand segregation, bias, and violence against his race. In 1965, at the age of 18, angry, but with a keen sense of justice The Fight For Freedom is the coming of age tale of a man and a nation. Tracing his years in the Civil Rights Movement, Reynolds gives us an insider’s view of the people, events, and tactics that brought the United States closer to the fulfillment of the founders’ promise that “all men are created equal.” Reynolds, a black man raised on a plantation in Alabama, witnessed firsthand segregation, bias, and violence against his race. In 1965, at the age of 18, angry, but with a keen sense of justice and a deep religious conviction, he joined the Southern Christian Leadership (SCLC).Without really knowing why; he gave up his job and a chance at college to do so, estranging his father in the process. In the end, SCLC’s philosophy of nonviolence brought self awareness to Reynolds just as it had awakened the country. Reynolds tells his story in straightforward first-person prose, perhaps the best of which is his depiction of the first project he conceived and initiated completely on his own, an action that brought fair schools to the Native Americans of Ridgeville, NC. Reynolds manages to infuse this section with the enthusiasm he felt at the time, while presenting one of his clearest portrayals of SCLC’s tactics. Curiously though, some of the most cogent, tightest pieces of writing in this narrative are found in his third-person accounts of Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and others he meets during his tenure with SCLC. The description of his ancestry and the memories he paints of his grandmother’s house, also in the third person, are downright poetic. “The house sat back a little from the road, surrounded by fields. Next to the red dirt driveway stood a large oak tree with hanging moss. Several large pecan trees towered beside the house.” A must-read for those of us who lived through this turbulent era, The Fight For Freedom is a timely reminder to the youth of today that complacency has no place in a free society, and that people should always be ready to fight the good fight. As Reynolds points out in his introduction, today the Occupy Movement is “raising the question of poverty and wealth…as we did.” A revealing and relevant read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    (Note: I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.) The author of this memoir worked in the Civil Rights Movement as a member of Dr. Martin Luther King's organization, the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). Portions of the book cover his family background and early life, and what's happened in his life in subsequent decades; but it's mostly focused on his years in the SCLC. The really interesting thing here is the chance to get an insider's view of what it took (Note: I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.) The author of this memoir worked in the Civil Rights Movement as a member of Dr. Martin Luther King's organization, the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). Portions of the book cover his family background and early life, and what's happened in his life in subsequent decades; but it's mostly focused on his years in the SCLC. The really interesting thing here is the chance to get an insider's view of what it took, logistically, to make the Movement happen. It was much more complicated than simply Dr. King traveling around making speeches. Widespread voter-registration drives on a local level; sending members of the SCLC to various communities to train local leaders in how to practice nonviolent resistance; the planning necessary to pull off long protest marches (food, portable toilets, places to sleep, and so forth). Reynolds was involved with all those things and more, and the opportunity to read what it was really like, from someone right in the middle of it, is priceless. In many places, it's also a very emotional book. Reynolds is quite moving when speaking of all the people who helped him out on his personal journey, and of the people who were killed during the civil rights struggle (such as Dr. King). On the down side: the writing style isn't especially skillful, and the prose can get a bit tedious to read. I wouldn't consider that a major drawback, especially since the book is short. But, if you're only mildly interested in the subject matter, it may be a barrier to you. If you're more than mildly interested, though, you'll hardly notice. This book opens a window on an important part of our history, from a perspective relatively few other people can match. Well worth reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I received this book through Goodreads first reads in exchange for a review. This book is a true story about the author's time in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC for short). The SCLC stood up for black people to give them the right to vote. They also help Native Americans and poor people throughout the Southern United States. The author and several others including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ended up in prison because of their work with the SCLC. This is a moving book about people I received this book through Goodreads first reads in exchange for a review. This book is a true story about the author's time in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC for short). The SCLC stood up for black people to give them the right to vote. They also help Native Americans and poor people throughout the Southern United States. The author and several others including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ended up in prison because of their work with the SCLC. This is a moving book about people who were willing to stand up for what they believe in.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tavan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Stewart

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  11. 4 out of 5

    NormaCenva

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ess

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Benson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  17. 5 out of 5

    Skhan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Ann

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    Julia Conway

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

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    Melissa Weidner

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    Bacsa

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    Diane

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    Betty

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    Nicola Fantom

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    Vykki

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    Brenna

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    Hannah

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    Dianne

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    Stella Clarkson

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    Dawn Obrien

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    Rochelle Webb

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    Melitta Cross

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    Adam

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    Jeanette

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    Melba

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    Samantha Gunning

  40. 4 out of 5

    Kim Myers

  41. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

  42. 5 out of 5

    SALLY WHITE

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