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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


Norton Book News

WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement
by Townsend Davis

Contact: Patty Chang Anker 617/623-1961

"With this book, Davis has given us a key to historic Southern worlds that will be a priceless treasure of every American."
—William Ferris, Chairman for the National Endowment of the Humanities and Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture

Forty years ago in homes, shops, schools, meeting halls, and churches across the American South, African-Americans began the most profound political and social reformation of our time--the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality. In these ordinary locales, they wrote sermons speeches, and newsletters. They organized demonstrations, boycotts, and lawsuits. They suffered unemployment, incarceration, violence, and, for some, death.

Today, only three Movement sites in the South are designated by the federal government as National Historic Landmarks — the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s home and church in Atlanta, and Central High School in Little Rock. But what of the many equally important places where countless African-Americans and their allies labored to spread their cause? In WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement [W.W. Norton; January 19, 1998; $27.50], author Townsend Davis highlights hundreds of sites — some well known and some off the beaten track -- where Civil Rights history was made. He also provides an up-to-date description of newly built museums and monuments that commemorate the Movement and its heroes.

WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS organizes a wealth of information in an easy-to-read format. It is a travel guide through the seven states in which the most pivotal events of the Movement took place — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Introductory essays give the historical background of each location, followed by descriptions of particular sites, as well as items of interest overlooked by the casual traveler. Drawing on more than 100 new interviews and field work covering 30,000 miles WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS offers many sites never before featured in print in addition to those that are fixed in America's collective memory. Among the most important sites are:

The Empire Theater bus stop in Montgomery, Alabama, where the arrest of Rosa Parks ignited a year-long bus boycott in 1955.

The Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, where a sit-in at the lunch counter by four African-American college students in 1960 pioneered a new form of protest against racial segregation.

The grave of James Chaney, whose brutal slaying along with two other civil rights workers in 1964 outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, prompted a national outcry.

Highway 80 between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, site of a triumphant five-day march in 1965 that solidified the drive for new voting rights laws.

The Progressive Club, site of the first Movement-supported citizenship classes that spread through the Deep South to teach reading and civil rights in the early 1960s, which still stands on a remote road on Johns Island, South Carolina,

Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama, where in 1963, young marchers faced dogs and powerful water hoses. Today it features sculptures capturing the event and a large civil rights museum nearby.

The Mason Temple and Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King gave his last speech and was fatally shot in April 1968.

Twenty-five original maps pinpoint the exact location of the sites, while 109 powerful photographs taken both during the Movement and the present day illustrate the text. The site descriptions are accompanied by explanations of intriguing Movement topics, such as the gripping journey of the Freedom Riders and the origin of the anthem "We Shall Overcome."

As Davis describes in brilliant detail, these issues and events continue to haunt these historic landmarks. Throughout WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS are letters, epitaphs, newspaper articles, civil rights pamphlets, sermons, speeches, and songs, all of which sound out the many voices heard during that time. Davis also provided useful guides, such as a Movement chronology of events, a list of civil rights laws, and a detailed index.

"My feet are weary, but my soul is rested, " said an old woman named Mother Pollard, as she declined a stranger's offer to give her a ride during the Montgomery bus boycott. WEARY FEET, RESTED SOULS allows readers to literally walk in the footsteps of the extraordinary men and women who worked, suffered, and rejoiced during the Civil Rights Movement. Chronicling the back roads and battlegrounds of the movement, Davis provides readers with both an armchair history of the struggle and an indispensable companion for those traveling to the Deep South in search of our nation's turbulent past.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Townsend Davis is a writer and lawyer living in New York City. His articles have appeared in the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and the Charlotte Observer.

TITLE: Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement
AUTHOR: Townsend Davis
PUBLICATION DATE: January 19, 1998
PAGES: 448
PRICE: $27.50
ISBN: 0-393-04592-7

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