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Weary Feet, Rested Souls - Jacket Design by Julie Metz. Jacket Photograph: Selma March c 1978 Matt Heron/Take Stock
Weary Feet, Rested Souls
Hardback published
January 1998
Jacket Design by Julie Metz.

Weary Feet, Rested Souls - paperback cover
Weary Feet, Rested Souls Paperback published
February 1999


The London Times
Literary Supplement

Townsend Davis
WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS: A guided history of the civil rights movement

432pp. Norton. £19.95.
0 393 04592 7

The black civil rights struggle of the late 1950s and 60s stand as one of the great historical "events" of the twentieth century - a powerful grass-roots movement which lanced the boil of segregation and altered the social and political landscape of the American South. Townsend Davis escorts readers on an informed, lively and often poignant tour of important civil rights sites, interspersing his state-by-state guide with helpful city maps, contemporary photographs and incisive accounts of leading figures and campaigns. Although he gives due credit to the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, commemorated, and even sacralized, as they are by well-known places such as the Lorraine Motel in Memphis (now a civil rights museum) and Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery (a National Historic Landmark), Davis rightly pays tribute to the activities of less familiar individuals such as E.D. Nixon, the Pullman porter who helped instigate the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, and Daisy Bates, a key player in the battle for school integration in Little Rock.

A few criticisms come to mind: the lack of entries, for example, on Washington, DC, and St. Augustine, Florida, both of which witnessed major civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. Some commentators moreover will be disappointed by the author's primary focus on the period up to 1965 and his almost total preoccupation with the South. A second volume, perhaps, might find space for a chapter on King's ill-fated Chicago campaign in 1966. Few, surely, would contend that the streets of Gage Park and Cicero are less significant memory sites that those selected for inclusion here. Overall, however, this fine work conveys a vivid sense of the physical geography of the movement - a sense generally lacking from more scholarly studies. As the civil rights generations begin to decline, it is good that we have such books (as well as places) to remind us of so many lives well lived.



Originally Published: October 23, 1998
Times Literary Supplement

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