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Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington Hardcover – June 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On August 28, 1963, a quarter of a million people converged on the nation's capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King, whose I Have a Dream speech highlighted the occasion, called it the greatest demonstration for freedom in the nation's history. Yale writing instructor Euchner (The Last Nine Innings) presents a pointillist portrait of the occasion, drawing material from historical records and taking oral histories from more than 100 participants. Although 1963 was the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, racial segregation remained deeply entrenched in the nation's South, and one specific, practical goal of the march was to desegregate restaurants and hotels. The Kennedy administration mobilized extensive military and police resources, but march leaders, including principal organizer Bayard Rustin and longtime civil rights activist Asa Philip Randolph, were confident (and accurate) in their belief that a peaceful mass demonstration of this scale was not only possible but could change the course of race relations in America. With deft brushstrokes, Euchner not only captures the myriad dimensions of the march itself but places it in its larger historical context, including the escalating war in Vietnam. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people of all races and backgrounds gathered on the National Mall in support of social equality and jobs and to listen to what would become Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I have a dream” speech. It was the first nationally televised demonstration and a triumph of organization, despite the unprecedented logistical demands and myriad ego-bruising conflicts behind the scenes. Euchner weaves together many of the diverse, complex elements of the event, drawing on interviews from hundreds of participants, to offer a portrait of the famous (A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young) and the obscure (three young black men from Gadsden, Alabama). Euchner details King’s preparation for his momentous speech, the behind-the-scenes support offered by Malcolm X, though he declined to participate, and the controversy surrounding John Lewis’ intended fiery remarks. He also details FBI rumormongering, death threats against King and others, and the political maneuvering within the Kennedy administration as Congress pondered the fair employment legislation that was partially the impetus for the march. A sweeping, comprehensive look at a pivotal march in American history. --Vanessa Bush

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807000590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807000595
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,896,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Euchner, the author or editor of nine books, is the owner and operator of The Writing Code.

Euchner's newest book is Nobody Turn Me Around (Beacon Press, 2010), an intimate account of the 1963 March on Washington. Based on more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of archival materials, Nobody Turn Me Around offers the only complete study of the only moment when all of the factions of the civil right's movement gathered in one place, a day capped by Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" oration.

Euchner is also completing a book called The Writing Code. Building on his experience in colleges and universities -- at institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, and Northeastern -- Euchner offers a sure-fire system to improve writing for high school and college students, journalists and academics, and corporate and nonprofit professionals.

Euchner's latest books -- both published in 2006 -- explore baseball from its highest to lowest levels. The Last Nine Innings provides a dramatic narrative of the seventh game of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.Little League, Big Dreams looks at the revolution in youth sports through a portrait of the 2005 Little League World Series.

Until June 2004, when he stepped down to satisfy the demands of his writing career, Euchner was the executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In that capacity, Euchner coordinated a wide-ranging research agenda on urban and regional politics and policy, conferences and other events, training programs for public and public service fellowships for graduate and professional students.

Euchner edited the Governing Greater Boston Series, served on numerous advisory committees, and contributed to newspapers and magazines on issues facing the region.

Euchner has written widely on public affairs. His most recent book on politics and policy, coauthored with Stephen McGovern of Haverford College, is Urban Policy Reconsidered: Dialogues the Problems and Prospects of American Cities (2003). That book has won praise for its comprehensive and even-handed approach to complex issues. The book has been praised not only by scholars of urban affairs but also by practitioners as diverse as Michael Dukakis, the three term Massachusetts governor and 1988 presidential nominee, and Steve Goldsmith, the former Indianapolis mayor and domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush.

Euchner's research has focused on the grassroots level of politics. His book Extraordinary Politics: How Protest and Dissent Are Changing American Democracy (1996) provides a critical analysis of the causes, strategies, tactics, and effects of outsider forms of politics in the U.S. Playing the Field: Why Sports Teams Move and Cities Fight to Keep Them (1993) was the first book to question the economic and political arguments for building sports stadiums.

Prior to entering academe, Euchner was a staff writer for Education Week, the nation's newspaper of record for elementary and secondary education. At Education Week, Euchner covered the federal government, teachers unions, state education policy, and computers in education.

Euchner received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
August 28, 1963, has become an iconic moment in American history. It was the day of the celebrated March on Washington and of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a Dream Speech" on the National Mall. Over 250,000 Americans of all races, creeds and walks of life came together for a moment. The specific goal was to secure enactment of Civil Rights legislation, but in King's dream of equality, freedom, and brotherhood, the March transcended that purpose.

Charles Euchner's new book, Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington" (2010) is an eloquently impressionistic history of the March. Euchner's history meanders into several byways but builds slowly to a grand climax in describing this historic day. The book discusses the historical figures involved in the March, such as Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, the organizer, Phillip Randolph, Whitney Young, Roy Willkins, Walter Reuther, John Lewis and many more. But it also tells the story of many of the people who travelled on buses, trains, cars, bikes, roller skates, and on foot to attend. Their stories will not usually be recounted in standard histories, and they deserve to be remembered.

The flow of the book moves back and forth. The scene shifts from the organization of the March in Washington D.C. and Harlem to the many communities throughout the United States that were home to the March's participants. Frequently, Euchner will introduce a character and describe that person's role, large or small in the events of the day. Then he will provide a biography or other brief history of that person showing how he or she became involved with the Civil Rights movement and made the decision to participate in the March. The story gains force as it unfolds.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Orris on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Charles Euchner's new book on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in
1963 is an excellent engaging text that makes the reader feel actually present at the events described. For someone who, as a teenager, was present for many of the events and meetings described, I found the book engrossing. It was an easy read which provided a good sense of multiple events and stories intertwining - this was fortunate as it also was hard to put down prior to finishing. It was a wonderful reanimation of people no longer with us or greatly changed by the years. Amazingly, I only found a few areas and descriptions at variance with my 47 year old memories.

I highly reccomend this book. It is important supplemental reading for anyone in high school or college studying the Civil Rights Movement following WWII up to the early 1960's.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By fredyt123 VINE VOICE on August 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"We want to keep our customs," "We want our Country Back," "Give us time," on and on. As part of my prep for the 47th March on Washington I have been reviewing books, videos, etc. from the past to be reaquainted Why the March was the first place??? Charles Euchner does an outstanding job in weaving an event that many know about, but in a way to bring those known and unknown into life, as if you're sitting in the room with the interviewer. The book is current and he does a great job to place you in the planning phases of the march as well as the behind the scene debates and issues that have not been communicated before. Most have seen Dr. King's speech but there were many, many more people which the author put before you. The notion of wanting one's country back is more profound as just like in 1963, some from the majority was fearful of sharing what they had or allowing equal rights for all and in today's term these acts seem pretty petty but right before our eyes in 2010 the same climate which was in the air and caused for The March is in the air today, as while the nation overwhelmingly supports change and took the bold step in electing an African-American as our leader, it is the minority who is hell bent on going back to the good old days or getting their country back and to Mr. Euchner's credit in writing the book, so you see a stark parallel in today's environment. Even today, some want to refight the Civil War and Euchner takes time to amplify why the March was critical, particularly the conditions leading up to the march and the political games. The only criticism.......there were so many unsung heroes or characters who participated in the planning, it would have been nice to have some pictures. This book is an easy read and worth investing your money
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janis Mcquarrie on January 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book fascinating and full of facts that I did not know and some that corrobarated what I did. Used the book for an intranet article at my jobs Diversity Council and we were hard pressed to decide how to keep the article to the required 600 words because there was so much info we didn't want to leave out!! Definitely recommend to those interested in the 1963 March.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Walczak on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Nobody Turn Me Around" is an unusual title for a history book about the 1963 march on Washington, but as you read this extremely well written book, you will have a personal understanding of what went into the decisions to have and/or go to the march on the part of a quarter million people. The title comes from a song sung by demonstrators in the civil rights era, which resonates as you hear the personal stories of some of the marchers, blended well with the historical accounting of the decisions on the parts of civil rights leaders that led to the march, and the drama that could have made it fractious but didn't. I felt like I really knew the inner workings of the leaders after reading the book. Looking back, you would think that the march was achieved to perfection with well thought through processes and systems that worked like a charm. When you read this book, what you find is that some of the aspects of the march were done extraordinarily well, but other parts of it could have been a disaster had there not been cooler heads, smart negotiations, and the wisdom of Philip Randolph. "Nobody Turn Me Around" is a nonfiction page turner, well worth the read.
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