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


In 1963, John Perdew was arrested in Georgia for demonstrating against segregation and was convicted of sedition, a capital crime. Fifty years ago Perdew and others of his generation worked to overthrow Jim Crow and open the polling booths for all Americans. Recently, the front page of the New York Times ran these headlines: "Desegregation Deal Completed," "Federal Scrutiny of Voting." In the last fifty years, has America progressed on matters of race, or are we stalled—or even moving backward?

With these questions in mind, Benjamin Hedin set out to visit the places and people who shaped the civil rights movement. "I wanted to find the movement in its contemporary guise," he writes, "which also meant answering the critical question of what happened to it after the 1960s." He profiles some legendary figures, like John Lewis, Robert Moses, and Julian Bond, and meets with many whose story has never been told and who are continuing the fight today.

In these pages the movement is portrayed as never before, as a vibrant tradition of activism that remains in our midst. Combining history with journalism and travelogue, In Search of the Movement is a fascinating meditation on patterns of history, as well as an indelible look at the meaning and limits of American freedom.

Praise for in search of the movement

"Beloved community and the exuberant humanism of the civil rights movement have never been so vividly rendered. Carry this book with you as a guide through our own anxious age. Beautifully written, sharply observed, whimsical and tender, In Search of the Movement is a road trip into America's better self."
— Charles Marsh, author, God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights
"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."
—Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author, Brief Encounters With the Enemy and When Skateboards Will Be Free
In Search of the Movement is a true marvel. Benjamin Hedin’s insightful combination of reportage and history of the civil rights movement allows us to see the era with fresh eyes. By tracing the continued legacy of the black freedom struggle from the 1960s to the present, this gem of a book wonderfully illuminates how the movement is living and thriving in our own time."

— Peniel Joseph, author, Stokely: A Life and Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
"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, Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records

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