Trail was practically a story about the civil rights movement, during one of It’s most trying times.
The book reveals the true motives and character of some of the people whom we have grown up knowing as someone completely different. Since first learning about the civil rights movement, I was able to recount the story, but not the facts. By this I mean I can spit back out the version of events that are popular belief; the stuff everyone thinks is right and is comfortable accepting.
But the fact of the matter is that the civil rights movement was a hugely influential part of our history and one that was highly controversial. It went against the beliefs and traditions of many people, especially In the south. The prejudice and the pride involved caused the ‘story’ to be warped, and that story is what we as elementary school students are taught. But upon digging deeper, we can find the truth about what happened during the civil rights movement. Hellholes was the resource I needed to show me these details that went deeper than the basic story everyone knows.History Is a hard word to define. It is the past, sure; but from whose perspective? Hellholes Is a unique and powerful book because It tells the story not just through one character’s eyes, but through many characters’ eyes. Hampton Sides was able to accurately represent the dynamics, both social and political, of the movement and portray them in a way that was understandable to the reader.
Prior to reading this book, my conception of the civil rights movement was somewhere between the silent protests of Rosa Parks and the outspoken marches and speeches of Martin Luther King.I envisioned the movement as exactly that: a group of dedicated civil rights activists moving across the nation building support. Reading Hellholes showed me the intricacies of the movement and explored the motivation behind it. I had never really heard about any failings of the movement, other than the obvious opposition from the traditional south. The book showed me how King’s motives and goals, and also the movement’s goals as well as the Class goals evolved over time. The biggest problem they faced was maintaining their policy of non-violent protest.Hellholes showed me what kind of resistance they came across, such as the Invaders, and gave me a better understanding of the movement as a whole. My now Increased knowledge has lead to my awe and respect towards the people who made the movement happen and who kept it alive.
They sacrificed nearly everything, as the book has shown me. They gave their lives to the cause, both literally and figuratively. This new, deeper understanding has changed what the movement is In my mind: it is no longer Just a story told In history class; It Is a piece of history, both American and my own.Another major part of the book was Martin Luther King Jar. I had known since third grade the part that King played in the movement, but had never really though about ho he was. The book showed me his human side; his faults and shortcomings and how he dealt with them.
As has been the case with much of the material in this class, historical figures are uncovered and what we thought we knew about them seems to be Just a cover story. For example, I have always thought that Martin Luther him in his movement. The book showed that he was not perfect.
He had many shortcomings, such as infidelity, alcoholism, and being a persistent smoker. King also feared that he would not live up to how the public dollied him, so he kept these hint all secrets. His fear of failing and letting down all of his followers scared him more than death. I wasn’t really surprised to learn about this side of King, as something that seems too good to be true often is. King was, in no way a perfect person, but he tried as best he could to keep his imperfections out of the public light.
This is the case with many social and political figures, as their success is based on how the public sees them. I see King as a social figure more than a political figure simply because the change he was trying to institute and the movement he was eating we based on a social foundation. The civil rights movement involved a great deal of politics, sure, but its moral founding and basis lay in the social realm.
King was the face of the movement; the voice that got everybody moving. He Jump started the movement and pushed it to where it needed to be.The book enhanced my understanding of what King’s role was and how he accomplished what he did.
The book also stepped King off of the pedestal he was placed on by my previous knowledge and showed that he was a human, Just like the rest of us, and that makes hat he did even more special. The last aspect of the book I will discuss is J. Edgar Hoover. Before reading this book, I had a decent understanding of who Hoover was and what he had done. Hellholes cleared up a some misconceptions and taught me a lot about who he really was.The biggest revelation I came to was that Hoover was acting based on what he truly thought was in the best interest of America.
I had not known about his vendetta against King, but I had suspected that his motivations had a personal basis and he was simply using his position of power to do what he saw fit. The book explains that that is not the case and he was using his powers the way he saw he must to protect the interests of Americans. It also changed my understanding of his personality.He was described in the book as being someone with whom you dread having a meeting. I had not envisioned him as such prior to reading the book. I also did not picture him as such a fearful character.
This book not only showed me things that I had not known, but also increased my understanding of things I did know. The job of a historian is not to be able to recite facts, but to be able to analyze and interpret events in a way the increases your understanding, which is exactly what the book did for me.Hellholes on His Trail changed my perception on many topics, not Just those mentioned above. The book created well rounded characters out of almost exclusively one-sided stories and made them into people that the reader could relate to.
It did not sugar coat anything, nor did it compromise the integrity of the historical facts, but presented them in a way that was interesting and informative. I am glad to have read Hellholes and to have learned all that it has taught me.