This finale to the trilogy was brilliant. Lewis’s storytelling showcases the bravery these folks had throughout their endeavors in gaining people of color the right to vote in America. Lewis was careful to show both the good and bad sides of as many of the characters as he could, showing them objectively before explicitly commenting about his feeling towards their actions. This gave me a really important reminder (and I hope anyone else who reads this book will feel the same) to ensure that I am assuming positive intent about others even if you disagree with their actions. Believe that others can change. And at the same time, make sure you are not turning a blind eye to their actions, and calling out each other. We need each other to keep us in check. Only with a huge amount of different voices can we ensure that we are making good choices.
Lewis’s trip to Africa was enlightening for me. I didn’t realize how much discontent there was between organizations. It seems that SNCC and SCLC and NAACP all had different ideas of directions they wanted to go and outcomes that were important for them in the Civil Rights Movement. However, in the end many of them rallied to come together to fight for Voting Rights, which was something they could all agree was an important stepping stone. This is a powerful story, much more in depth than I got walking through a museum or learning about in history class. I am quite grateful to have names and faces to put to the movement, as I find I feel more connected to people than I do to movements or organizations. Lewis’s story did wonders towards humanizing the movement, in my opinion, and I hope that this story can help open others’ minds.