Publication Date: July 28, 2013
1963 was a key year in the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Williams highlights events and personalities of the day that may not have seemed connected in his book but contributed to the advance toward equality.
The author’s publicist, G.K. Zachary, gave me an advanced reader’s copy of this nonfiction work in exchange for my review.
Anyone looking at the title of this work will connect 1963 as the year that President Kennedy was assassinated. Most Americans that didn’t live 1963 won’t connect the other important events of the year and the role they played in the civil rights movement. We knew that certain events did happen, but we don’t necessarily pin them to 1963. Williams helps us connect the dots of the civil rights movement to the relevant year and does so in an entertaining and compelling way that will leave readers locked into the narrative.
In 1963: Year of Hope and Hostility, Williams connects for readers events at the forefront of American memory and those not so discussed. Williams lists in the foreword, the intent that this work serves as a text and had I been given such a well-written and interesting text in any of my university history classes, I’d have been a happy student.
Williams is a qualified reporter of the era in civil rights. He lived this battle. In his work, Rev. Williams chooses to highlight three individuals, key to the importance of 1963 in the civil rights movement. The first thought of many Americans when thinking of 1963 will be the death of President John F. Kennedy by an assassin bullet at the end of the year. Williams chooses to focus on Kennedy’s rise as a truly great leader in 1963. It was the same year Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Williams gives us insight as to the circumstances and reception of this letter and how it changed, in a sense, the way Americans looked at the civil rights movement.
The last individual slated for focus is Governor George Wallace who famously said in his inauguration speech, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Williams gives us a history of Wallace that many readers may not know. While this nonfiction work is interesting and overall informational, I found the portion devoted to Governor Wallace provided the newer information for this reader. As an observer and recorder of history, Williams reflection of the Governor is very professional and without judgment, as appropriate to a non-fiction work. 1963: Year of Hope and Hostility is important history for the common man.
Williams has been a journalist for many years and his attention to detail and smooth writing style reflect his wealth of experience. His topic is one of abiding interest and is presented in a clear and focused style. His work is approachable and accessible without talking down to readers. Aficionados of history will appreciate Williams’s direct and linear approach to his subject matter. 1963: Year of Hope and Hostility should be required reading for all Americans.
Reading this work shows the reader how far we’ve come but also how far we have to go. In an age, where reality contestants are throwing racial slurs without regard, they seem trite and silly next to those who sat on the front line of the movement. They are throwbacks and more the exception than the rule. This too shall pass. I have great respect for Rev. Williams and his presentation of this important topic.
Reverend Byron Williams is the pastor of the Resurrection Community Church in Berkley, California. He is an outspoken proponent of gay rights as civil rights. Williams also writes a column for the Huffington Post. He has been a journalist for many years and has written another book titled Strip Mall Patriotism: Moral Reflections on the Iraq War. Be sure to look this author up on Youtube. He is a fascinating orator.
Read an excerpt and buy 1963: Year of Hope and Hostility by Reverend Byron Williams on