And the Walls Came Tumbling Down (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Some twenty years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., his friend and partner Ralph David Abernathy has published a memoir of his own life that is closely interwoven with the history of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Citing two basic reasons for writing the account, “to show how life was lived during the era of Jim Crow” and to describe the experience of being “at the center of the civil rights movement as it operated on a day-by-day basis,” Abernathy has provided a comprehensive overview that reveals much about the black experience in America.
He was born David Abernathy in 1926 in rural Alabama; the name Ralph was unofficially added when he was about twelve by his sister Manerva, for a teacher she admired. His rural farming background was one of the seminal forces that shaped young Abernathy, whose parents, Will L. and Louivery Valentine Bell Abernathy, instilled in him deep respect for the land and for the values of agricultural life, family, and the church. “My father always said,” he recalls, “that land would be the means by which we would rise in the world.” This linkage between racial progress and economics was to influence Abernathy’s later career as a Civil Rights activist. If he learned “strength, independence, and moral earnestness” from his father, his mother taught him “kindness, love, and gentility.” Reared in the Hopewell Baptist Church, where his father was a deacon and to which the family...
(The entire section is 2168 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Los Angeles Times Book Review November 12, 1989, p.4.
The New Republic. CCII, January 29, 1990, p.28.
The New York Times Book Review XCIV, October 29, 1989, p.3.
Publishers Weekly CCXXXVI, August 18, 1989, p.43.
Time. CXXXIV, October 23, 1989, p.42.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, October 15, 1989, p.1.
(The entire section is 39 words.)