‘Buses Are A Comin” honors civil rights motion’s unsung heroes | Books

“Busse Are A Comin ‘” by Charles Person with Richard Rooker, 2021, St. Martin’s Press, 304 pages, $ 26.99

Your place has been reserved.

You are excited about this trip, but also nervous. You have never been where you go and you hope this is a once in a lifetime trip. Even so, it is necessary for you and for the future to go there. So grab your suitcases. Author Charles Person says “The buses are coming” and you’re on board.

He didn’t know then, but Person grew up in poverty.

His family was rich in love, rich in meals, and wealthy when it came to teaching; They had a lot of fun, but he was in 10th grade before discovering his extended family lived in a tenement building on the south side of Atlanta in Buttermilk Bottom.

His father worked two full-time jobs to make ends meet. His mother was a domestic servant and practically had “two families”. Until then, he had never considered the facts, and it embarrassed him.

Two years later, when he was about to graduate from high school, he was furious when he had to turn down his preferred college for lack of money. It seemed like the last insult after a lifetime of insults, and he cursed it until his grandfather asked Person what he would “do about it”. Papa asked for an answer. Person chose a historically black college near his home that he could afford.

After walking 3 miles from his house to Morehouse the first day was uncomfortable but person stayed. He wanted the education, wanted to follow the words of John F. Kennedy, who asked what he could do for his country. At the same time, the tireless civil rights activist Lonnie King was in Atlanta.

When King was told by an Atlanta department store owner to go home and take his fellow protesters with him, he vowed to return with “thousands” in the fall.

And, says Person, “I was one of them.”

Sometimes it seems that the story, in a rush to tell the story, glosses over many of the details. “Buses Are A Comin ‘” makes many omissions clear – after telling a story so intimate and full of joy and despair that it almost takes your breath away.

In fact, a person tells his own story so well that you can feel the floorboards sway in his “tenement”. Surprisingly, he writes about the many elders who did not want their children to march to see the danger. and those who did it anyway. There are details here that are not discussed much and other details that add to national history.

And then Person “turns memoirs into memorials” by targeting King, who in Person’s eyes was obviously a giant. King, he suggests, is one of the civil rights movement’s most unsung heroes, but Person doesn’t forget others who marched for change – including his contemporary John Lewis.

This is a book you are giving to readers too young to remember the civil rights movement. It honors and sings names. Read it; “Busse Are A Comin ‘” will keep you in your seat.

Comments are closed.