Youth in revolt

The Shadows of Youth by Andrew B. Lewis

The Civil Rights Movement is usually associated with adult freedom fighters such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, W.E.B.Du Bois and Medger Evers. Each, and many more, contributed significantly to the Movement and grew to become its leaders, caretakers and organizers. They were jailed, beaten and assassinated during their plight for black dignity and respect.

But, says author Andrew B. Lewis, were it not for a band of activist teenagers committed to the struggle, the Movement could not have succeeded. In his new book, “The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation,” Lewis tells the story of the young men and women who made up the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) and challenged the way Americans think about civil rights, politics and moral obligation in an unjust democracy.

The book provides a carefully crafted biography of men and women such as Stokely Carmichael, a former SNCC chairman and Black Panther Party member who is credited (or blamed) with popularizing the phrase “Black Power;” Diane Nash, a SNCC cofounder who also led the Freedom Rides; John Lewis, a former SNCC chairman who is now a U.S. Representative from Georgia; and Julian Bond, a SNCC cofounder who is now the chairman of the NAACP.

Andrew Lewis, who teaches history at Wesleyan University, discusses his book on Feb. 24 at the Penn Bookstore. The event takes place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 215-898-7595 or visit www.upenn.edu/bookstore.

Originally published on February 18, 2010