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The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard

The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard by [King, Derek R.]

Many are remembered and revered for their contribution to the civil rights movement–some are more easily named than others. Clyde Kennard is one man among the countless individuals whose quiet contributions are often overlooked in history books, lectures, and museum descriptions of the most famous civil rights events of the 1950s. Clyde Kennard, a man with a right to an education in the United States, found himself in the throes of a battle to gain a college education in Mississippi while at the same time battling the oppressiveness of segregation, racism, and the fears of rural white America.

The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard, by Derek R. King, is the moving account of Clyde Kennard’s life and significant but virtually silent contribution to desegregate the South. King invites readers to absorb the details of Kennard’s life from his early days through his years serving in the United States Army. By establishing Kennard’s willingness to defend his country, King makes it clear to readers that Kennard is a man we should not slight in discussions of desegregation.

I am sure I am not the only reader surprised to hear of the part Kennard played in desegregating a southern college. King explains, in no uncertain terms, the exceptional number of obstacles placed in Clyde Kennard’s path as he attempted to apply and enroll in Mississippi Southern College near his own home in Mississippi. Authors like King are almost single handedly responsible for providing readers with otherwise hidden facts about heroes like Clyde Kennard and those who championed his cause.

In addition to telling Clyde Kennard’s own personal story of struggle, King includes details about the deaths of Reverend George Lee, Lamar Smith, and Emmett Till. While Emmett Till’s tragic story is one I had heard, I was completely unaware of the viciousness of his death and had no idea that his killers were so brazen as to later proudly admit their actions. These are the stories we all need to be told so history does not repeat itself. I, for one, am grateful to authors like King who continue to tell these stories.

Clyde Kennard was harassed and underwent one accusation after another as he fought to further his own education. I am horrified at the level of leading questions Clyde Kennard was asked by prosecutors when he was accused of robbery. Nowhere during his proceedings was he treated fairly. King has included the testimony within his story which makes the truth of Kennard’s battle that much more gripping.

It is and will forever be through books like Derek R. King’s that citizens of the United States see and feel the truth of where our country has been and the place we should all fear returning. Clyde Kennard’s story is one that should be told far and wide and given its rightful place alongside all other well-renowned heroes of the civil rights movement. Derek R. King has made a significant contribution to literature indeed.

Pages: 384 | ASIN: B07JPL1SBD

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