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No Turning Back: My Summer With Daddy King Hardcover – October 20, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the summer of 1961, Brewster, a white seminary student from the North, worked at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where both Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. were pastors. In this moving memoir, he recalls his first encounters with Atlanta's segregated restrooms, restaurants and public swimming pools, and describes finding the spontaneous church services of the black Baptist tradition both unnerving and energizing. When local white ministers didn't embrace Brewster's idea of setting up meetings between black and white church youth groups, Brewster's eyes were opened about the intransigent racism of ostensibly moderate white clergy. (Less dramatically, Brewster also learned about that staple of Southern cuisine, grits, during his Atlanta summer.) Brewster's book is valuable not only for the record of his own awakenings, but for the personal anecdotes about King Sr., who emerges as a passionate, wise man with a sense of humor equal to his sense of justice. Though Brewster is not attempting to analyze the Civil Rights movement, he does offer useful insights about the importance of hymnody in black churches' freedom struggle. The prose is uneven; often, Brewster's descriptions are vivid and energetic, but occasionally he lapses into didactic clichés (I was shaken. This experience would change my life.). On the whole, however, this memoir is engaging and inspiring. (Oct.)
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Review

"What Brewster learned in his summer with the King family, surrounded by an entrenched, segregated society, is insoiring reading."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books (October 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570757283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570757280
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,368,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By S. Cerquone on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'll admit to my bias: Rev. Brewster is the pastor of the Episcopal church I currently attend. He's a lovely, humble man, who for many years didn't talk much about his experiences with Daddy and Dr. King. We, his parishioners, only knew tidbits of his summer in Atlanta in '61. Needless to say, after reading this book, it is with both surprise and awe when I say how his story is both profoundly moving and important to read. We know so much about MLK Jr. but here is where you read about Daddy King's life, and his own struggle with civil rights as a sharecropper's son. You also learn of the wonderful people who surround the Kings at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is astounding sometimes (like every year during Black History Month) to realize it was such a short time ago that these egregious situations existed. We've come a long way but not nearly far enough. And we northerners have no business gloating either. Our prejudices just have other names and norms. I'm passing this book on to my kids and grandkids. Our efforts to better ourselves can't stop yet.
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Format: Hardcover
While I agree with the reviewer who wishes for more of the author's emotional experience in his account, this is an engaging read, a page-turner. On the other hand at times he is refreshingly frank, honest, and revealing of just how innocent and naive he was as a bright-eyed and bushey-tailed seminarian.

There are moments when one wonders how Brewster ever lived to tell this tale. It is a total wonder that this young white outsider wasn't killed by bigoted Red Necks in the Atlanta area. It could have happened at the roadside gas & grocery, or at the community pool, or at a church parking lot one evening. In all three instances it was but for the grace of God that Gurdon Brewster made it through the Summer of 1961.

The world is a better place because people such as Reverend Brewster are in it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Brewster's summer took place in the midst of the civil rights struggles. He came to stay in the black community, indeed in the home of Martin Luther King's father. He developed deep and powerful bonds with the Kings, and with many members of the church, learning lessons he had not expected to learn. This is a very powerful and truly remarkable book.
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Format: Paperback
Gurdon Brewster's highly personal account of his relationship with Martin Luther King, Sr., is as honest and uplifting as its author, my college chaplain in the 1960s and friend since. His memoir provides a rare and valuable glimpse into the underlying forces that gave rise to King's famous son and the American civil rights movement. But the book is far more than an original source of information about that era. Its greater value lies in Brewster's revelation of the connections that developed in a single summer between certain members of the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church and himself, a wet-behind-the-ears, white Episcopal seminary student who had little in common with the members of Daddy King's church, except their shared faith. The reader who pays close attention -- who is as unhurried in the reading as Brewster was in the unfolding of his story -- will be amply rewarded: first, with the sure knowledge that people who have good reason to mistrust each other can still form solid, even loving, relationships and, second, with a clear idea of what it takes to overcome the barriers to such an unlikely alliance.
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