The following review is courtesy of Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish Rafael Ocasio. The book, Carry On, is available through McCain Library.
Observed in the United States from February 1 through March 1, Black History Month as Jonathan Franklin highlighted for NPR, “honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation” (https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1075623826/why-is-february-black-history-month). In the midst of a lengthy Covid pandemic, this year’s theme, Black Health and Wellness, strikingly resonates in John Lewis’s Carry On: Reflections For a New Generation (2021). The late Lewis (1940-2020), U.S. representative for the state of Georgia (1987-2020), was described by American Civil Liberties Union as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced” (https://www.aclu.org/congressman-john-lewis). Along with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., another notable Black activist, Lewis’s participation in peaceful public demonstrations against Southern segregation practices led to the proclamation of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964). In Carry On, Lewis recalled key moments as a brave Civil Rights fighter (often the target of severe acts of physical aggression), followed by his subsequent career as a vocal public servant. Lewis offered a fresh updated view of his Civil Rights activism; in particular, I enjoyed his comments about undocumented immigrants, bravely claiming that, “There is no such thing as an ‘illegal human”” (149). The book is a beautiful compilation of personal essays that encourages, rather, challenges the reader to consider the power of forgiveness, meditation and prayer as ways to navigate overwhelmingly difficult societal marginalization.