“Down to the Crossroads. Civil Rights, Black Power and the Meredith March Against Fear” by Aram Goudsouzian. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux Publishers, 2014. $30.
In 1962. James Meredith became the first African-American to register at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he set out to march from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, with the goal of registering black Mississippians to vote.
More importantly, he sought to challenge black people to fight their daily fears of white people in the South.
The Meredith March in 1966 is often remembered as the time that the phrase “black power” was first used. “Down to the Crossroads” argues that this march was much more than that slogan.
Begun as a solo hike from Memphis to Jackson by Meredith, the march took another turn when, on just the second day of his journey, Meredith was shot three times by an unknown white shooter.
Martin Luther King; Stokely Carmichael, the new chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee; and Floyd McKissick, the head of the Congress of Racial Equality, took up Meredith’s cause.
Research and interviews on the events and personalities involved in the Meredith March provides a deeper look into the stories of the locals involved in the movement.
With more than 15,000 citizens participating by the time the march ended in Jackson, it became one of the largest civil rights marches in the state. Nearly 8,000 African-Americans registered to vote, and the state has maintained heavy political involvement from black voters.
— Anna Guerra, Denham Springs
“The Kitchen House: A Novel” by Kathleen Grissom. Touchstone, 2014. $27.
Originally published in 2010, Grissom’s novel examines the fractious lines between black and white, servant and master. Unlike it’s contemporary, “The Help,” “The Kitchen House” is set in the late 1700s in Virgina, when servants — both black and white — were still considered property.
Lavinia is an indentured servant. Her parents died on the passage from Ireland, and she struggles with grief as well as identity as she navigates the complex social structure of a tobacco plantation.
Grissom doesn’t flinch from strong emotion, be it heartache or love, and she uses it to add startling depth and richness to her story without being overwhelming or precious. The result is a story that’s almost aggressive in its reality, reluctant to let the reader slip into a pattern, and quick to go by.
swsThis 2014 edition is the novel’s first issue in hardcover, and they’ve done a lovely job — it would make a great holiday present.
Just don’t start reading it before bed; you’ll be up all night.
— Beth Colvin, email@example.com
“Cineplex” by Dennis Formento. Paper Press, 2014. $10.
New Orleans poet Dennis Formento takes readers on a journey through his vision of New Orleans.
Cineplex is a collection of poems that evokes many feelings from despair to hopefulness. Much of the focus leans toward the violence in the city and the juxtaposition of those feelings to the love we all have with our city.
— Anna Guerra, Denham Springs