Kathryn Johnson AP journalist, reported one of the most amazing part of the History of the XXth century in this book: My Time with the Kings published by RosettaBooks and picked up by me at netgalley.com: the fight for building a good and equal society for everyone, rich and poor, black or white.
This human Flag Martin Luther King Jr.
He worked hard for bringing peace and equal rights between black and white. The legacy of King continued also after his assassination in Memphis April 4th 1968 at the Lorraine Motel.
Kathryn fought other personal battles as well. When she was born in 1926, no one expected from her the choice of a work like this one. At that time women were devoted just for family, or they became nurses. Good jobs of course, indispensable but...a reporter... It appeared more than a dream.
Kathryn not tall but plenty of energy, a degree in literature studied also journalism and later knocked at the door of the AP of Atlanta. The chief bureau put in clear that they didn't want around any woman with these dreams, but there was a place as secretary if interested.
Kathryn must have thought: let me be in and then I will let you see....
And in fact...
No one wanted or was interested at giving coverage to the various news of assaults against black people, or other racial stories. So these stories assigned to Kathryn. De fact, from a simple secretary, Kathryn became a staffer of the AP, Associated Press of Atlanta.
Apart the prestigious place, Kathryn is part of the History.
This little lady would have become a great reporter, with a special privilege: the one of reporting a big portion of one the most important crucial events of the last century.
The ideas of Martin Luther King, the fights against black people in various cities, the death for assassination of Luther King and previously of JFK, and later of his brother Bobby Kennedy, the at the end bill of rights for black people that would have changed their life for better after the march of Selma.
People that years died in various pacific demonstrations just for the desire of bringing freedom and setting free from physical and mental slavery black people.
That wonderful XX century....It was able to create idealistic people as Martin Lither King Jr. Kennedy, Gandhi. The list is endless but each of them was unique because they were people of great intellectual value.
People thought it was indispensable to fight for a better future and a best conditions for everyone.
Kathryn shared with the readers, at the beginning her biggest privilege: to be one of the closest friends of King's family.
Everything started for case when once she re-accompanied home mr King, and his wife asked her to come on in for drinking some coffee and resting for a while.
A friendship this one of the reporter with Martin Luther King and his family told with great love and continued for decades and decades
The day of the discovery of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis Kathryn the only reporter entered at King's house. She wasn't there only as a reporter, but she was there as a friend, so she helped King's wife answering the various messages of condolences received from all the world, she baked and cooked as well while she waited for the arrival of Jackie Kennedy for the condolences.
An extended member of the family able to present some comfort and relief at four desperate children who lost their beloved dad too soon and at a poor devastated widow.
Kathryn reports her impression of the funeral of Martin Luther King and what it meant to live in the South in a moment in which the racial condition could implode abruptly in every corner of city or little village with great simplicity.
Although another century passed by from the Secession War started in 1861 and ended up in 1865, constricting the South that lost the war at setting free their slaves a lot of things in 1950-1960s not yet sorted out in the South and other part of the USA.
Kathryn remembers many anecdotes.
In a trial she was also treated differently from the rest of the reporters because a woman and so put in a different place close to other black men.
We mustn't never think that Kathryn obtained with simplicity what she obtained: freedom of reporting facts.
She fought and she won the discrimination! this time against women, a portion of History, like the racial one not yet sorted out.
A man said her during this trial: "You shouldn't stay here. You should stay home taking care of your family."
Although I didn't know many anecdotes for sure I knew of the march of Selma, last year the 50 anniversary of this important march that brought the approval of the bill of rights.
What was the South 50 years ago?
Bands of Ku Klux Klan dangerous with white supporting blacks and black people.
Bars, café schools universities, buses...There wasn't permission for black people to enter in a place for "only white people" or staying sat in the same bus or in a café with white people.
Trying to force this guideline would have meant violence and interruption of the service.
There were universities just for black people and the introduction as explained in the book in an university in Alabama of the first two black students a male and a female that Kathryn followed like a shadow, their lessons and so on, caused some turmoils as well.
The students later suspended and re-integrated.
One of them, the girl, became a NYT's journalist and collaborator of the The New Yorker. We talk of real brains, very acculturated and at the same time discriminated because of the color of their skin.
The racial condition is modern and of great actuality because a real, plenty integration of these two communities, reading here and there, for what I can see, still distant, and black people are still feeling the white as their enemies, and the white lives sometimes black people as distant ones.
What I loved the most of this book well, being a reporter, the work of Kathryn. Because yes, of course it's also great to work everyday in a newsroom, but Kathryn...Kathryn went out, searched for the facts reporting them as more quick as possible for not burning the news.
She has seen with her same eyes the History and its Protagonists, reporting it.
This is simply, incredibly, priceless.
If you want to read a beautiful book, quick, written with love without too much sentimentalism go for this one.
It's human and real like life is.
Anna Maria Polidori