4 out of 4 stars
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What was life like for the ordinary blacks in Birmingham during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement? How did the ‘hand-to-mouth’ workers feel when they were forced to boycott the businesses of those who employed them? Was slavery still being practiced in the South in the twentieth century?
The narration of the author’s story begins on September 15, 1963, when as he was on his way to church there was a deafening explosion. The fight to end racial prejudice had taken an ugly and unthinkable turn when a bomb was placed in a church basement that was serving as a Sunday school class. Four innocent children died, and many others were injured. While this appeared on the headlines of leading international newspapers, not a single word was mentioned about it in the local papers of Birmingham. Such hatred based solely on the color of one’s skin fueled the author’s desire to find a home elsewhere. Years later, his journey in a seminary was cut short when he published articles that revealed the rot that had affected the system. Would he still find a home?
The Children of My Knee is a memoir authored by Len Cooper. The book is approximately 391 pages long and consists of 23 chapters. In this book, one is led through many paths and adventures that eventually combine to generate an enthralling and remarkable story. The book adequately addresses the consequences of unmet expectations. For instance, the reader is inspired to examine not only what they believe but also why they believe. I found this to be very important and necessary because the result is that one will either discard some beliefs or develop stronger convictions about them.
There are many fundamental subjects candidly discussed in the book. What I liked most, however, is that the author reveals the predicament of the ordinary folk during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. The information contained in the book reveals how casual laborers had to lose their grueling jobs, and hence some were not supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. One realizes how many were caught in between the hard rock and the sea. They had to either support the noble cause and undoubtedly lose their jobs or unwillingly oppose it and continue being mistreated but with their jobs intact. The author described everything vividly such that I recognized the kind of dilemma people faced and why they made certain decisions. The author’s integrity, courage, and passion cannot be understated. He never backed down easily and even when the obstacles appeared overwhelming he did not give up.
There is nothing I disliked about the book. The language used was straightforward, and editing was professionally done as well. I was not only able to derive many lessons from the book, but I also learned a lot, especially concerning racial discrimination. This is the story of a person whose dreams were shattered, but he ultimately discovered his true passion. I heartily rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It will appeal to ardent fans of memoirs.
The Children of My Knee
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