Synopses & Reviews
Forty years ago, a teenaged boy named John Lewis stepped off a cotton farm in Alabama and into the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America. The ideals of nonviolence which guided that critical time of American history established him as one of the movement's most charismatic and courageous leaders.
In "Walking with the Wind", John Lewis recounts his life with the fierce simplicity for which he is known, both in public and private. It began in rural poverty but within the bosom of a loving and resilient family. It has ranged across almost every battlefield in the most dramatic struggles for racial justice -- from Selma to Montgomery to Birmingham and beyond.
Lewis's leadership of the Nashville Movement -- a student-led effort to desegregate the city of Nashville using sit-in techniques based on the teachings of Gandhi -- established him as one of the movement's defining figures and set the tone for the major civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, from the Freedom Rides of 1961, during which Lewis was repeatedly brutally beaten and imprisoned; to the 1963 March on Washington, where his fiery speech thrust him into the national spotlight; to his selection as the national chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), which he helped shape and guide; to the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" attack at Selma, where Lewis suffered a fractured skull during a tear gas attack by Alabama state troopers. Lewis, as a participant in the movement, was to be, and remains, utterly true to his boyhood hero, Martin Luther King Jr., as a believer in the philosophy and discipline of nonviolent social action.
In 1966, Lewis was ousted as SNCC chairman by Stokely Carmichael, who represented the emerging militant "Black Power" direction of the movement. Two years later, Lewis joined Robert Kennedy in his 1968 campaign for the presidency. He was with Kennedy moments before he was assassinated.
Lewis, committed to the principles of nonviolence, spent the next decade organizing and registering four million voters in the South. In 1986, he sought a United States congressional seat in a campaign against his old friend, comrade, and former SNCC colleague Julian Bond. Lewis won the seat in a great upset and serves in Congress to this day.
John Lewis tells his story of struggle in the civil rights movement, of comradeship in that community, of its battles and triumphs, and of his own persevering faith with great charm, candor, and humor.
Forty years ago, a teenaged boy stepped off a cotton farm in Alabama and into the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America, where he has remained to this day, committed still to the nonviolent ideals of his mentor Martin Luther King and the movement they both served.
John Lewis's life, which he tells with charm, warmth, and toughness, ranges across the battlefields of the civil rights movement -- Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mississippi. It is peopled with characters, including Diane Nash, Julian Bond, and Marion Barry; Bull Connor and Bobby Kennedy; James Farmer and Jim Forman; Malcolm X and Lyndon Johnson; Shirley MacLaine and David Halberstam; Harry Belafonte and Martin Luther King, and many more.
From a sharecropper's farm to Nashville in the late 1950s, Lewis was swept up by the rising winds of the civil rights movement where he risked his life over and over, and went to jail many, many times. By the 1960s, he was steering the sit-in movement through the South, leading the "Freedom Rides", assuming the chairmanship of SNCC, and stepping into the national spotlight at the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis was in the "Mississippi Summer" of 1964, at "Bloody Sunday" in Selma in 1965, at Bobby Kennedy's side in 1968 moments before Kennedy was gunned down in the kitchen of Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel. As a sixth-term United States Congressman, the highest ranking, black elected official in the country, Lewis continues the nonviolent struggle that has defined his entire life.