OVERRIDE

The Shadows of Youth

The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation

Andrew B. Lewis

Hill and Wang

Julian Bond, Stokely Carmichael, Bob Moses, John Lewis, Marion Barry, Bob Zellner, Julian Bond, Diane Nash: their lives recall a decade when a small number of idealistic American youths forever changed history. Forcefully written and deeply researched, The Shadows of Youth spans the tumultuous decades from World War II to the present, weaving a collective biography of the young activists who—under the banner of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s—challenged the way Americans thought about civil rights, politics, and moral obligations. And the historians Andrew B. Lewis establishes that it was these young Americans, assuming the central role in defining the civil rights movement, who ensured that it was finally victorious.
 
The story of American civil rights has too long centered on the achievements of Martin Luther Kind, Jr., and a few familiar events. Drawing on a wealth of original sources and interviews, Lewis shifts the focus to the teenagers who spontaneously launched sit-ins across the South in the summer of 1960. Through the lives of bond, Carmichael, Moses, Lewis, Barry, Zellner, Nash, and their contemporaries, The Shadows of Youth unearths the cultural events that turned a disparate group of young adults into—to use Nash's term—skilled freedom fighters who were critical to the success of the movement. The trajectory of their lives, from their teenage years to adulthood, coincided with the arc of the most decisive era of civil rights. For the first time, this sweeping history establishes the centrality of their achievement to the movement's accomplishments.

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1. SURE BUGS ME
THE CIVIL RIGHTS GENERATION AND THE FAILURES OF THE 1950s
When fourteen-year-old John Lewis opened the paper on May 16, 1954, the headline stunned him: the Supreme Court had de­clared segregated schools unconstitutional. He  could not believe it. Separate schools were one of the cornerstones of southern segrega­tion. He felt his world “turned upside down.” He was sure he would be attending an integrated school that coming September, a mere four months away. But Lewis’s hopes would be dashed by a school deseg­regation process that saw only
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Shadows of Youth

The Shadows of Youth is a kind of group biography of this generation of young men and women such as John Lewis, Julian Bond, Diane Nash and Stokely Carmichael. Lewis relies on already-published histories of the movement, but he knows how to tell a compelling story, and he is able to take these figures and render them in their full, three-dimensional complexity. The result is a taut, compact history of the civil rights movement seen from the perspective of a particular generation of its leadership.” —Michael A. Elliott, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“Lewis takes on this tumultuous journey in a fact-based account of the movement’s moral and political dilemmas . . . His view of the student movement working in the shadow of the iconic Martin Luther King is both insightful and alarming . . . The extent of Lewis’s research makes this an excellent tool and especially fertile ground for screenwriters, politicians, and anyone interested in this polarizing period of history.” —Sheli Ellsworth, San Francisco Book Review
 
The Shadows of Youth brings to life once again the nation-transforming '60s. It does so from the perspective of intelligent, passionate black youths. In a clear, measured, and highly readable style, Lewis' book pays tribute to the courage of those students who began their march for freedom on that 1960 Easter weekend in Raleigh.” —William F. Powers, The Raleigh News and Observer
 
The Shadows of Youth does something that no other book on the civil rights movement has done. Andrew B. Lewis reminds us that the legendary activists of SNCC were not merely civil rights shock troops, activist intellectuals, or democratic idealists; they were also baby boomers, and their story needs to be read in light of the peculiar sturm und drang of America’s post–World War II youth culture.” —Joseph Crespino, author of In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution
 
“With deep admiration and rigorous scholarship, historian Lewis revisits the ‘ragtag band’ of young men and women who formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee…With this eloquent book, he offers a deserved tribute.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Historian Lewis offers an engaging look at some of the major figures in the budding civil rights Movement” —Vanessa Bush, Booklist

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Andrew B. Lewis

  • Andrew B. Lewis teaches history at Wesleyan University. His books include Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table: A Documentary History of the Civil Rights Movement, with Julian Bond.
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    The Shadows of Youth

    The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation

    Andrew B. Lewis

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    Hill and Wang

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