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You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America

af Paul Kix

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
604438,274 (4.72)5
History. Nonfiction. HTML:

This program features a prologue and epilogue read by the author.
From journalist Paul Kix, the riveting story, never before fully told, of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign??ten weeks that would shape the course of the Civil Rights Movement and the future of America.

It's one of the iconic photographs of American history: A Black teenager, a policeman and his lunging German Shepherd. Birmingham, Alabama, May of 1963. In May of 2020, as reporter Paul Kix stared at a different photo??that of a Minneapolis police officer suffocating George Floyd??he kept returning to the other photo taken half a century earlier, haunted by its echoes. What, Kix wondered, was the full legacy of the Birmingham photo? And of the campaign it stemmed from?
In You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live, Paul Kix takes the listener behind the scenes as he tells the story of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's pivotal 10 week campaign in 1963 to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. At the same time, he also provides a window into the minds of the four extraordinary men who led the campaign??Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel.
With captivating prose that sounds like a thriller, Kix's audiobook is the first to zero in on the ten weeks of Project C, as it was known??its specific history and its echoes sounding throughout our culture now. It's about Where It All Began, for sure, but it's also the key to understanding Where We Are Now and Where We Will Be. As the fight for equality continues on many fronts, Project C is crucial to our understanding of our own time and the impact that strategic activism can have.
A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon
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For more reviews and bookish posts on my bookish blog at https://www.ManOfLaBook.com

This book was sent to my Little Free Library by Celadon Books. It looked very interesting, strangely it complimented another book I’m currently reading, The Death of a President by William Manchester chronicling five days of the Kennedy assassination.

You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live by Paul Kix tells of Project C; a civil rights effort to desegregate Birmingham. The movement had a formidable opponent, Bull Connor, the racist sheriff controlling the city and its police department, who were as brutal as the Nazis (an eyewitness observation made by reporters).

The author tells of the events in a chronological order. Telling not only of events, but how personalities in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) clashed. The decision to bring in children to the protest was very controversial but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend James Bevel managed to force the racist Birmingham government to concede.

I knew nothing of Project C, or Double D-Day, before reading this book. The marches were a pivotal, historical moment in America and, yet they are almost forgotten. To me, the shocking part, was how American citizens were treated by other Americans, yet the rest of the country stood by and watched. I did make me appreciate Robert F. Kennedy more, being a man with a strong moral sense. He did, however, wanted / was pressured to brush everything under the rug to get his brother, John, more votes.
And just like that – an honest man blinked.

The author’s depiction of the personalities involved was, for me, the strength of this book along with the historical aspects I knew nothing about. The book tells an important story, and yet it’s easy to read and digest. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Jun 9, 2023 |
You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live by Paul Kix is a detailed look at the ten weeks in Birmingham that finally made the atrocities of the Jim Crow south too visible for the public at large to ignore any longer.

The reader is taken from the planning through the ugliness to the ultimate success of the project. But it is not really as linear a story as that makes it sound. Kix wonderfully shows where issues came up, from funds to support the action to how to go about it and who should be included. The normal clash of personalities in any organizational situation as well as what brings them together. While the vast majority of the names will be well known to anyone who has studied the period, some are given the share of the credit they are due, and they may well be new names for some readers.

Since this is an account of a short period of time and a very focused project, it is told in a narrative manner. That is rather common in nonfiction, especially history, that tries to get below the surface. But don't confuse having a narrative as being written like it was fiction. They are not synonymous terms. Yes, because you are taken day-by-day, and at times hour-by-hour, through the events, you might have a similar feeling as when you read a novel. But between the endnotes and the in-text citations, there is no mistaking this as being written like fiction. In fact, because this is real life, it is far more impactful than fiction.

The key people are presented in a well-rounded manner, including both their strengths and their weaknesses. If anything that makes what was accomplished that much more impressive. When working toward a positive and society altering goal disparate personalities can come together for that common good.

If there is one especially sad part about reading the book, as far as big picture goes, it is just how little we have truly progressed as a society since that time. There is still so much more we need to accomplish. This volume can serve as both a reminder of how working together can bring about change and as a call to action for the change we still need to bring about.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | May 18, 2023 |
I was eleven years old, my family preparing to move from my childhood home, my dad’s childhood home. I didn’t read newspapers or watch the news. The worst thing in my life was missing my fifth grade teacher’s wedding that June.

Elsewhere, children my age and a few years older were gathering in solidarity in nonviolent protest in Birmingham, Alabama, a city run by vicious, all-powerful segregationists and white supremists. They faced army tanks and fire hoses and attack dogs. Entire schools emptied. These children knew they would be arrested and jailed. They found the courage to do what their parents, dependent on white employers, could not.

Bobby Kennedy was challenged to consider the protests as a father, not a politician. He realized that legislation was imperative, and pushed his brother Jack.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had decided on Birmingham for their campaign. During a tumultuous ten weeks, the leaders didn’t always agree, and King retreated to the hotel room, waiting and watching.

During his time in the Birmingham jail, he drafted an inspired letter, a manifesto to inspire other ministers to join the movement. Inspired by a series of thinkers, from the Social Gospel to Reinhold Niebuhr to Gandhi, and his Baptist faith, King was a hesitant leader and an eloquent spokesperson who understood that the cross was at his journey’s end.

Day after day, leaders like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth walked out of the church with forty or so, knowing they would be arrested by the waiting police. But the campaign was fizzling out. They needed thousands of protesters. They needed to force Bull Connor to lash out, to catch the attention of the world.

James Bevel went to the children, taught them nonviolence, inspired them to carry on the fight for equality. It was controversial. And it worked.

I read with a sense of dread, knowing what was to come. The incomprehensible hatred, the courageous determination. I was reading history, and I was reading legacy, and I was reading about a battle that continues today.

This is a moving, immersive history of a pivotal moment in time, vividly portraying the flawed and courageous leaders.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book. ( )
  nancyadair | May 15, 2023 |
Receiving a new book from Celadon Books is always a treat. Their objective is to publish a small number of highly curated titles each year, both fiction and nonfiction, that are classic and uncommon. Every book I have read published by Celadon has more than met that objective and You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live is no exception.

This is a powerful book, starting with the prologue. Author Paul Kix is a white man married to a Black woman, with children who identify as Black. He has a unique perspective and his balanced, unbiased narrative puts the infamous events of the Birmingham Campaign that took place sixty years ago in context. Kix makes no judgement but rather lets readers draw their own conclusions. So much has been written about Birmingham that it would seem we already know all there is to know, but Kix has done his homework: he focuses on a 10-day period; his research is meticulous and thorough, uncovering motives, actions, denials and manipulations on all sides that no one wanted revealed.

As he lays out the facts Kix does an excellent job of making it apparent that while there were vast differences, both sides also had much in common: ulterior motives, hunger for power, willingness to do whatever it took and use whoever it took, as well as dedication, commitment and bravery. Everybody’s reputation suffers a little when some of the most gruesome events and plans are described. There is no easy answer to the question, “Was it worth it?” And I believe that is Kix’s intention: not to provide answers but to provoke an endless stream of questions, to see where it all began, where we are now and where we may be going to end up.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most remembered figured from the Birmingham Campaign, but others were involved: the Kennedys, activist and actor Harry Belafonte, local ministers, career activists – and local Birmingham residents and children – many, many children, very young children, children who were forced to march into lunging, snarling, biting dogs or firemen spraying, knocking them down, injuring them with fire hoses. We’ve seen pictures of those children for years, but what we may not have realized or understood until author Kix points it out is that the philosophy of the organizers of the Birmingham Campaign was to employ something called “strategic activism.” Drastic measures were necessary to show the effects of segregation in the South to the rest of the nation, to show to just what lengths those in power in Birmingham would go to keep that power. The organizers wanted the attention of the press. They needed to incite violence to show the protestors were non-violent. And outside of Birmingham money and politics rather than concern for the plight of the victims affected the support the organizers did or did not receive.

I repeat, this is a powerful book, thought-provoking, eye-opening, sobering. Author Kix masterfully combines the pace and readability of a novel with the facts and detail of a history book, evoking strong emotion as the tension and suspense build and each day’s events unfold. Thanks to Celadon Books for providing an advance copy of You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live to me as a Celadon Reader for my reading pleasure and honest opinion. This is a complex, truthful, well-crafted book and I recommend it without hesitation. All opinions are my own. ( )
  GrandmaCootie | May 4, 2023 |
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History. Nonfiction. HTML:

This program features a prologue and epilogue read by the author.
From journalist Paul Kix, the riveting story, never before fully told, of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign??ten weeks that would shape the course of the Civil Rights Movement and the future of America.

It's one of the iconic photographs of American history: A Black teenager, a policeman and his lunging German Shepherd. Birmingham, Alabama, May of 1963. In May of 2020, as reporter Paul Kix stared at a different photo??that of a Minneapolis police officer suffocating George Floyd??he kept returning to the other photo taken half a century earlier, haunted by its echoes. What, Kix wondered, was the full legacy of the Birmingham photo? And of the campaign it stemmed from?
In You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live, Paul Kix takes the listener behind the scenes as he tells the story of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's pivotal 10 week campaign in 1963 to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. At the same time, he also provides a window into the minds of the four extraordinary men who led the campaign??Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel.
With captivating prose that sounds like a thriller, Kix's audiobook is the first to zero in on the ten weeks of Project C, as it was known??its specific history and its echoes sounding throughout our culture now. It's about Where It All Began, for sure, but it's also the key to understanding Where We Are Now and Where We Will Be. As the fight for equality continues on many fronts, Project C is crucial to our understanding of our own time and the impact that strategic activism can have.
A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon

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