Crossing Border Street

Crossing Border Street

A Civil Rights Memoir

Book - 2000
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Baker & Taylor
The Jewish author reflects on his years working for the Louisiana-based civil rights organization Deacons for Defense and Justice, recalling support by black volunteers and the sometimes violent treatment by the opposition.

University of California Press
"This valuable document of recent history is skillfully written, with a plain eloquence. Honigsberg is especially good at rendering conditions in Louisiana in the mid-Sixties. We have precious few narratives of this sort from the civil rights period, and this one will join a small, distinguished company."--Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties

"Crossing Border Street offers a window onto the civil rights movement in the rural South during the mid-1960s and captures what it was like for a young northern volunteer to work with some of the key figures and organizations in the freedom movement in Louisiana."--Robby Cohen, New York University

"This memoir of the movement in Louisiana is a welcome addition to the literature of the civil rights struggle, serving to leaven as other memoirs have a literature too often dominated by dry, scholarly studies. The book is also welcome for the light it shines on struggles--in Louisiana in general and Bogalusa in particular--that for all their importance have been eclipsed by the attention accorded to the movement in other places."--Doug McAdam, author of Freedom Summer

In 1966 Peter Jan Honigsberg--a young, idealistic law student--arrived in the South to help provide legal representation for civil rights workers. Although based in New Orleans, most of his work was in the city of Bogalusa and in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Bogalusa was the heart of the Louisiana movement and the home of one of the most formidable but little-known black organizations in the country--the Deacons for Defense and Justice, the first modern-day African American organization to carry weapons and to respond with force against the Ku Klux Klan. This riveting memoir, one of only a handful of first-person full-length accounts of the civil rights movement, is both a stirring coming-of-age story and a thrilling chronicle of a remarkable era in United States history.

Honigsberg's engaging narrative conveys the emotions and personal dangers activists faced. He describes how the Deacons worked with the Bogalusa Voters League to boycott the white-owned businesses in the downtown area and to integrate the local schools, restaurants, parks, and paper mill.

Unlike many law students, Honigsberg not only worked on legal issues; he participated directly in marches and demonstrations. His narrative includes lively firsthand accounts of his attempt--with a group of black and white demonstrators--to integrate a beach on Lake Pontchartrain, his experience marching through hostile Ku Klux Klan territory under the eye of the National Guard, and his witnessing a prominent civil rights leader lift his car's trunk to display a cache of carbines and grenades to a station attendant who refused to fill the tank with gas. This memoir provides a unique glimpse into the civil rights movement and the people who were forever changed by its struggle for human dignity and its vision of racial justice and equality.


Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2000
ISBN: 9780520221475
0520221478
9780520234598
0520234596
Characteristics: xv, 177 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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