In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now


Product Details

$15.95  $14.83
City Lights Books
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.0 X 0.8 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Benjamin Hedin's fiction, essays, and interviews have been published in The New Yorker, Slate, The Nation, The Chicago Tribune, Poets and Writers, Salmagundi, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Radio Silence. He is the editor of Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, widely regarded as one of the finest collections of music writing. He is the producer and author of the forthcoming documentary The Blues House, which tells the story of the search for two forgotten blues singers carried out in Mississippi in June of 1964, during some of the most violent days of the civil rights movement. Hedin was born in Paris, France, and raised in North Carolina and Minnesota. He studied music at the College of William and Mary and in the fall of 2002 entered the Graduate Writing Program at The New School in New York City. After earning his M.F.A. in fiction from The New School he started teaching, first at Long Island University and The New School, and later in the Expository Writing Program at New York University. He is the son of Robert Hedin, the award-winning poet and translator.


"Hedin takes us along on his journey, acknowledging his innocence and his (sometimes quite erroneous) assumptions. With equal parts curiosity and humility, he intertwines history and current events with his own thoughtful reflections. After scores of interviews and many thousands of miles clocked on the odometer, he slowly comes to feel that he 'had gotten a glimpse into the heart of things, as if a panel had been lifted and I could see the gears and knobs, all the workings that made the machine go.'"--Elaine Elinson, Truthdig

"Fusing the personal with the political, the present with the past, Benjamin Hedin has written a sober, touching elegy for our shared history. In Search of the Movement is needed and essential, and it could not have come at a better time."--Said Sayrafiezadeh, author of Brief Encounters With the Enemy and When Skateboards Will Be Free

"A deeply intelligent writer and reporter, Benjamin Hedin repositions the civil rights movement as an ongoing crusade, a moral and political struggle that was seeded in the 1950s and 60s, but continues to develop in complicated, hopeful, and heartbreaking ways. In Search of the Movement is a bold and exploratory book, as much about Hedin's journey--to reconcile an American past with the American present--as anything else. It reads like both a salve and guide for these heady times; I couldn't put it down."--Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records

"A journalistic foray into the work of unsung heroes in the civil rights struggle, then and now. In this slender disquisition, journalist, teacher, editor, and documentary film producer Hedin (Studio A: A Bob Dylan Reader, 2004) ponders why the civil rights movement has petered out when so much still needs to be done. The answer, of course, is that it has not ceased--though the changes are often wrought subtly and behind the scenes, as the author ably uncovers through his research. Traditionally, the perimeters of the movement range from Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and Rosa Parks' arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, and end with Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis in 1968. While Hedin acknowledges the enormous changes that took place within that frame--nonviolent boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations ultimately forced the government to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and begin the process of desegregation in schools and other institutions--so much still begs to be done. The evidence is abundant: intractable inequality in education, the killing of unarmed young black men by police forces, and the strictures on voter registration in such conservative states such as North Carolina. Hedin pursues the sadly dwindling members of the so-called Moses Generation--e.g., Robert Moses and David Dennis, former leaders of the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, and Congressman John Lewis, who helped lead the marchers across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965; and others now deceased and unheralded, such as Charleston native Septima Clark, who pioneered 'citizenship schools' on Johns Island and elsewhere. Hedin champions the work of dogged current organizers like Jessie Tyler of Ruleville, Mississippi, who scours the direly impoverished Delta counties to help people sign up for health care, which the author firmly believes is a civil right. Thoughtful essays on this significant struggle, ongoing and continuous."--Kirkus Reviews

"We tend to think of paradigm-shifting history as isolated events of singular importance enacted by powerful individuals. In Civil Rights history, we identify Rosa Parks, the Greensboro Four at the Woolworth's Sit-Ins, or Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma as moments that everything began to change. Benjamin Hedin insists that we remember the hundreds of hours of meetings and planning sessions and forgotten beatings that led to the iconic event. The summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the streets. Or meeting in a church basement."--Brian Lampkin, Co-Owner, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC