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Parting the Waters

The book, Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch is the first of the three books that retells the story of the civil rights movement aled by Martin Luther King Jr. The title of the book alludes to the journey of the Hebrews to the Promised Land, as told in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament. The book presents several signigicant points. The first is the importance of the preacher was in the history of the civil rights movement.

Even though there has been political leaders in the likes of Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, the second half of the 20th century could not find anyone of their caliber to lead the African-American people in their struggle for civil rights and it fell upon the preacher to do that. These were products of liberal whites who taught Christianity to them and they combined their knowledge of the Bible with their own personal and spiritual convictions to become leaders of their communities. Martin Luther King was the product of this “experiment,” having inherited the mantle from his father. His family, particularly his mother and (maternal) grandmother were products of the philanthropy of John D.

Rockefeller and were able to have a better lfie owing to the quality education they received. The other point was how the Montgomery Bus Boycott signalled the start of the civil rights movement. The immediate cause was when Rosa Parks defied Jim Crow Laws by refusing to yield her seat on the bus. Her arrest was considered the last straw as far as the African-American community was concerned and when they stepped up their protests, they were making it loud and clear, they would no longer tolerate the intolerance and prejudice imposed on them.

They were making it known they were also American citizens and were also entitled to the same rights as the whites . They would also repeat the same thing on counters of dining establishment that refused to serve blacks even if they could afford to pay for their meals. What was significant here was they employed Gandhi’s passive resistance to make society see the evil they were doing, to make them see the error of their ways and stop. The other point raised by Branch was how the civil rights movement, through the efforts of King, was instrumental in getting John F.

Kennedy elected president in the 1960 elections. Initially, the African-American comnmunity was Republican, throwing their support behind its candidate Richard M. Nixon, but after seeing Nixon for what he was, and through constant contact with Kennedy’s brother Robert, the support shifted in Kennedy’s favor . The support provided proved vital to Kennedy’s campaign and eventually his victory that catapulted him into the White House. The other was the famous march on Washington on August of 1963.

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, King likened Washington, DC to a bank and they had come here to cash a check which symbolizes their petition to demand the end to segregation and promote true equality for all . This was significant in the sense that it did not only bring blacks, but also whites and when King made his speech, he also reached out to the other marginalized sectors of America, that they too deserve the same rights they were fighting for.

The gathering underscored that society was willing to make the change and they were waiting for those proverbial waters to part and this came when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. In conclusion, Parting the Waters was just the beginning. The subsequent books would continue telling the struggle even after the Civil Rights Act was passed as the road to acceptance was still very difficult. Bibliography Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

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