A Local Mom's Review to Kick Off AFAR Book Club

At the Info Session quite a few people expressed interest in forming an AFAR Book Club.... so we're doing it! We would love to hear your feedback about format and areas of interest, so if you think you'd enjoy a book club please fill out this google interest form!

We are so thrilled to share this book review from our new friend Courtney Napier. She offered these incredibly thoughtful connections on lessons from a mother of the civil rights movement, and our own journey as parents and activists today. Thank you Courtney for this post! We invite anyone else who may want to write a blog post to reach out, and look forward to future reviews from the book club!

My Life, My Love, My Legacy: Against All Odds, #ShePersisted

"Who would have dreamed that a little girl who began life as a part-time hired hand picking cotton for two dollars a week in the piercing hot sun would rise to a position that allowed her to help pick US mayors, congresspersons, or even presidents? Or that in the 1950s and 1960s, when a woman's place (and sometimes her imprisonment) was clearly defined as the home, I would be both an avowed homemaker and a liberated feminist? That I would be able to help build a human rights movement while also raising four beautiful children?" - Coretta Scott King

I don't know about you, but I find great joy in discovering fresh titles on Wake County's new non-fiction releases section of their website. I select ones that are interesting, then wait not-so-patiently for that sweet notification to arrive in my inbox: Your books are ready for pick-up!

Coretta Scott King's My Life, My Love, My Legacy was one such find for me, and it very quickly became one of the most impacting books I have ever read. The book contains her life story as told over many years to her friend Dr. Barbara Reynolds, and I feel as if I am in the room with them as she shares her dearest memories. The intimacy that this book evokes turns the legend of the first Black Power Couple into flesh and blood. Early on, we learn that Dr. Martin Luther King was a prankster and loved to play jokes on his friends. Martin and Coretta shared the chores around the house as a newly married couple. Martin cooked dinner once a weekand once said that wearing an apron made him feel like "more of a man." We also learn that Coretta was his strength throughout the Civil Rights Movement. When he was afraid, she stood firm. When he doubted his abilities, she encouraged him. Without Coretta, there would be no Dr. King.

Coretta was a woman raised in the Jim Crow South, a dreamer, a beautiful musical talent, an orator, a wife, an activist, and a mother. She is a tremendous example for AFAR in that she shows us the power of activated families. This personal look into the lives of Dr. and Mrs. King is important, but more important still is the personal look into the movement. In My Life, My Love, My Legacy, we see a group of people who were prepared to meet the battle that was brought to them. In AFAR, we see ourselves positioned to stand against injustice and destructive politics not unlike the many civil rights groups that came together over 50 years ago, and I say this understanding the gravity of my words. This book is a subversive tool for our cause because it teaches us the level of organization and tenacity one must have to see our cause realized. For instance, King recalls that the Montgomery Bus Boycott had been planned and perfected over a year before Mrs. Rosa Parks (an activist in her own right) chose to remain seated in the "whites only" section in '55. When the time came, committees were in place, alternative transportation was assembled, funds were raised, and community leaders had fanned the flames of hope in the hearts of the people. It was not luck that caused the boycott to last 381 days with nearly 50,000 participants; it was meticulous planning, constant encouragement from leadership, a community banding together, and teeth-gritting determination.  

For me, what makes AFAR so special is that it is activism in the context of family. We are fighting for our families, with our families. We don't have time to waste time. Mothers and fathers already understand the importance of organization and preparation, just as the young parents Martin and Coretta understood. They also understood that, just like raising a child, it takes a village to enact true change in one's environment. We also understand the power of persistence (hello potty training!). There's no such thing as "one and done" when it comes to parenting - and this is also true for combating injustice. There is an inspiring picture in the book of Mrs. King getting arrested alongside two of her adult children outside of the South African Embassy in Washington DC protesting Apartheid. By that time, in 1986, she was a grandmother! What we learn from Mrs. King's example is that we don't have to let anything keep us from raising our voice against injustice.

Author: Courtney Napier, a mother living in Raleigh NC

Photo credit: www.readitforward.com