I don’t read many memoirs or autobiographies. Blind spots are difficult to avoid when we tell our life stories from our perspective. I tend to enjoy biographies more because the writer weighs a person’s life, the thoughts of others, and the moment in history to shape the story of a life.
Yet I found myself engulfed in this book and unable to put it down. This book came to my attention when it was listed as a finalists for the National Book Award. It’s a rather quick read and the author slowly unfolds the story leaving you wondering what will happen next. Carolyn Forche takes readers through her journey of understanding the weight of oppression and the prevalence of corruption. Her story carries you along her journey and at the same time takes you on your own journey of how you can engage in the world around you. There are a few pages from this book that will remain with me for a long time.
Some quotes that stood out to me:
Try to see. Look at the world, he’d say, and not at the mirror.
Hope also nourishes us. Not the hope of fools. The other kind. Hope, when everything is clear. Awareness.
It isn’t the risk of death and fear of danger that prevent people from rising up. It is numbness, acquiescence, and the defeat of the mind. Resistance to oppression begins when people realize deeply within themselves that something better is possible.
You have to be able to see the world as it is, to see how it is put together, and you have to be able to say what you see.
I believe with my life…how I live
This was a fascinating read about Martin Luther King’s final campaign and his final days. There are plenty of books about King but this one makes a unique contribution in telling the often forgotten endeavor of King’s Poor People’s Campaign. This is a vivid telling of the struggle for economic equality which was often more challenging than the battle for civil rights.
The content covers a short period of time but thoroughly details the events, emotions, struggles, and hopes of the organized effort to achieve economic justice. Reading this book gives a deep sense of what it must have felt to be alive during these days of tension. It also reveals that the issues of class are still barriers of division–even among people committed to civil rights and reconciliation. Readers will find many heroes of action and a steady reminder of what if means to suffer in order to bring about change.
Five Quotes that stood out:
The battle in the South will continue to be black against white, instead of what it should be and what we can make it: a battle of people against poverty and injustice.
I’d rather be dead than afraid. You’ve got to get over being afraid of death.
Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they’re going somewhere. Because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.
We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Nothing could be more tragic than to stop at this point…We’ve got to see it through…either we go up together or we go down together.